Monday, May 28, 2018

Robert Stadler Syndrome

or, The “Demographics Matter” Canard

But what can you do when you have to deal with people?
—Dr. Robert Stadler in Atlas Shrugged 

But what can you do when you have to deal with people . . . of a 
cultural background different from mine?
—Those who recite the “demographics matter” slogan

Stuart K. Hayashi

“Demographics matter. Numbers matter.”

That is a favorite slogan often recited to rationalize the proposition that Western governments block immigration of people from poor countries on the basis that they come from a barbaric “cultural background” (“cultural background” usually being a euphemism for “race”). The premise is that nonwhites from poor countries are programmed to have a particular political ideology and are programmed to want to accept welfare and vote for welfare, and also to be violent, and therefore “we” (meaning whites) should demand that government agents block these people from entering Canada and the USA and Western Europe, denying freedom of association both to those immigrants and to the native-born Westerners who wish to deal with them, to “preserve freedom.” Those who say this slogan expect to be taken seriously when, essentially, they are writing off whole groups of people as inherently violent. Ironically, it is those who recite the “demographics” slogan who are advocating the initiation of the use of force on individuals.

There are many people who, decades ago, understandably grew enamored with the message of free enterprise and of everyone being able to keep the wealth that she earns. But upon reaching old age, many of these people have grown frustrated. If this free-enterprise message is so great, why is it routinely rejected by most of the Earth’s population — and why is it that people of some particular minority “demographics” are likelier to reject it than others?

A convenient “explanation” — rationalization, really — is that if people from specific minorities are especially resistant to the message, they are just plain hopeless, having been programmed to reject the message on account of their deeply ingrained cultural upbringing, race-related genetics, or both of those factors. And, continues the rationalization, acceptance of the free-enterprise message is so rare among members of those “demographics,” that people from those “demographics”  should be dismissed as psychologically unreachable. But it gets worse than that. It is not as if those who write off these “demographics” merely decide to leave those “demographics” alone. The presumption continues that it is members of those “demographics” who will eventually destroy us (white) free-enterprisers, and therefore “we” (white) free-enterprisers must strike at them before that can happen.

And hence, these frustrated, now-cynical former free-enterprisers decide on a policy of telling members of those blacklisted ethnic demographics, “Free enterprise for me but not for thee.” But, in the long run, that is not how free enterprise works. To use government force preemptively to deny free enterprise to large populations, based on the presumption of guilt — and not even in a wartime context — inevitably involves the initiation of the use of force on innocent, peaceful people. The attempt to reserve free enterprise for some ethnic “demographics” while denying it to others, unavoidably initiates the use of force upon the peaceful, and is therefore the denial of free enterprise altogether.

This brings to mind the character of Dr. Robert Stadler in Atlas Shrugged.  Throughout the story, Dr. Stadler keeps getting more paranoid and more obsessed with being able to use force against everyone else. Why does he do that? It’s because he presumes, before they even interact with him, that everyone else is incapable of using reason in dealing with him. But if those other people will not reason with Dr. Stadler when they interact with him, their only other recourse is force. In attempt to preempt those other people from using force on him, it is Dr. Stadler who ends up being the party to initiate the use of force on them.

That is the danger of writing off entire “demographics” of people as being congenitally barbaric and unable to deal with us through reason. In presuming “they” will initiate force on “us,” it will be “we” initiating the use of force on “them.”