Rising IQs and Falling Voters: The Flynn Effect and the New Anglosphere Politics
In Brave New World Huxley describes
an island full of Alphas endowed with high IQs. Nothing works. Striking,
dissent and disorder reign. The thinking minority with IQs in the top five
percent simply refuses to take orders. Every directive is questioned. During
the Korean War, the Koreans were able to neutralize American POWs simply by
excluding their leader figures, their officers. This automatically halted all
attempts at escape.
For this reason, every
functional society has had avenues of social mobility for its most intelligent
and spirited subordinates. Think of Europe in the Middle Ages: the Catholic
Church allowed the most intelligent peasant children access to patrician
society via the monasteries, thus neutralizing them and depriving the poor of
their natural leaders. This is as much the result of social self-organization
as social planning. However, it seems to be a necessary feature of any
functional society. A pressure release, if you will.
In Britain throughout the
twentieth Century it will be noted that social dissent diminished in tandem
with expanded opportunities for working class advancement. Foremost of these
were the Grammar Schools. Although only a small minority of the working class
attended them, these were the most intelligent. Their removal and
embourgeoisment consequently had a neutralizing effect out of all proportion to
their actual numbers.
Then sections of the middle
class (those with unintelligent children, essentially) began to agitate against
the Grammars. Comprehensives were introduced. In itself this was not initially
that damaging to working class life chances. Bright children could still advance
to university and into the middle class. But it was noted that these schools
did not develop bright pupils socially, only academically. In a society where
accent, manners and morals are still highly significant markers of status,
proletarian children, however intelligent, were inherently damaged by this
selfish act of sabotage.
Then the middle class began to
pull their children out of State education or buy it by postcode. Public
education in deprived areas began to lose its capacity to nurture the brightest
of the poor. Corporal punishment was abolished, fine in schools with polite
suburban children but a recipe for pandemonium when trying to deal with the
angry urban proletariat. Now, we have the worst State education system in
Western Europe. Social mobility is less than it was forty years ago, economic
And here we come to the crux
of the matter. State education can no longer help the best or brightest of the
working class. They are left to fester in sink schools and housing estates.
Where once there was a fast track out of urban poverty, now there is nothing.
All escape routes, save crime, are blocked. This, I believe, is a major reason
for the rise of the radical right in blighted urban communities. The most
intelligent of the disenfranchised are trapped there, now, blaming and
agitating. And their intelligence is transforming the far right: rationale
increasingly underpins its theories and methods.
The far right no longer seems
intellectually ridiculous in Britain. Its arguments are coherent. Many of its
opinions are actually majority opinions, particularly on issues like
globalization, the liberal hegemony or the absolute indifference of the
‘mainstream’ political parties to social problems like poverty and low pay.
There is clearly an intelligence underlying their efforts never present before.
This, I aver, is the working class intelligence that was wasted by liberal
mismanagement of education. For the first time in many decades, sections of the
white urban poor can articulate their discontent.
Liberals, always seeking the answer
to ‘hate’ could do no better than reintroduce Grammar Schools and allow bright
working class children into them. But that would not be liberal, would it?
Theweleit has linked the rise of the Nazis in large part to a feeling of
blocked social mobility among the most spirited and ambitious of the
disenfranchised: people who felt denied what was ‘due’ them in the chaos of
Weimar Germany. This group included bright working class boys who had won
scholarships; landowners ruined by new farming methods; displaced university
Graduates toiling for a pittance.
All of these
felt that life owed them more. Such men are dangerous in a way the authentic
underclasses are not. They are less likely to accept their lot and more capable
of contesting it. Additionally, their sense of injustice against economic and
political disenfranchisement burns infinitely brighter.
many of the groups described by Theweleit abound in modern Britain. Working
class Graduates without the confidence or connections to escape the dole queue;
unemployed workers in ailing industries, intelligent working class youngsters
deprived of educational opportunity by the spiteful, paternalistic middle
With ever declining numbers voting
at all, it seems Britain faces a crisis of political legitimacy. Peter Hitchins
cites evidence that 80% of people under 40 despise their own country‘s
political institutions. With such alienation so widespread, it is possible that
the present situation could escalate into mass support for the far right. The
middle class massively underestimates the mass acceptance of rightist views
among the disenfranchised; also, the scale of their present exclusion.
Most of those who vote or organize
for the BNP are no more intolerant than most in their socio-economic
circumstances. They vote for the far right more in protest against the wildly
unrepresentative liberal oligarchy, upper-middle class self-exemption from
multicultural responsibility and paternalistic mismanagement of society.
However, the problem (if it is a
problem) may have another root. While the far right-wing activists have emerged
due to blocked social mobility, the success of the far right across Britain and
Europe coupled with the enormous interest in Moore and Coulter in the US shows
that a mass movement of resistance to elite domination has spontaneously
emerged in the West. Could there be a rational explanation for this outside
Effect and the End of Paternalism
Flynn, the professor of political science at the University of Otago in
Dunedin, New Zealand, declares that intelligence quotients, as measured by
certain tests, have been steadily growing since the turn of the century.
carefully documented findings have provoked a sort of soul-searching among many
in the psychological and sociological communities. Before Flynn published his
research in the 1980s, IQ tests had their critics. In general, however, the
tests were viewed as imperfect yet highly helpful indicators of a person's
acuity and various mental abilities or lack thereof. But after the widespread
discussion of the eponymous Flynn effect, nothing has been the same. Debates
roil about what the tests really measure, what kinds of intelligence there are,
whether racial differences persist and, if IQ truly is increasing, why and what
the political and social implications are.
transforming work," comments Ulric Neisser of Cornell University, editor
of The Rising Curve. The recent book, which emerged from a 1996 American
Psychological Association symposium, reviews the Flynn effect and the various
explanations for it--including better nutrition and parenting, more extensive
schooling, improved test-taking ability, and the impact of the visual and
spatial demands that accompany a television-laden, video-game-rich world.
discovered that certain IQ tests - specifically, the Stanford-Binet and
Wechsler series - had new and old versions and that both were sometimes given
to the same group of people. In the case of one of the Wechsler tests, for
instance, the two versions had been given to the same set of children. The
children did much better on the 1949 test than they did on the 1974 one. Everywhere
Flynn looked, he noticed that groups performed much more intelligently on older
tests. Americans had gained about 13.8 IQ points in 46 years, Flynn reported in
including Jensen, responded by saying that the tests must have higher educational
loading than previously suspected. So Flynn looked at performance changes in a
test called Raven Progressive Matrices, which measures what is called fluid g:
on-the-spot problem solving that is not educationally or culturally loaded.
Amazingly, it turned out that the highest gains were on the Raven. Flynn
observed that in 14 countries - today he has data from at least 20 - IQ was
growing anywhere from five to 25 points in one generation.
are the political implications of the Rising Curve? As we have seen, certain
factors characterise contemporary Western society. There is mass
alienation and defection from social and political institutions. In the recent
UK census large numbers of males were found to be ‘missing’. It is increasingly
difficult to get indigenous people to do dead end jobs – they prefer the dole:
or to get young, poor males to enlist in the Armed forces. Contempt for
patrician culture is commonplace. Above all, fewer and fewer people vote.
It is usual
for the Establishmentarian academics (both liberal and conservative) to equate
intelligence with organized religion, ‘rational voting’, abiding by the law and
conformity to ‘societal’ (i.e. patrician values). Misalignment with these
values denotes, for them, declining rationale and education. To these
observers, the explanation offered for these phenomena in this article might
ruffle a few feathers with its reverse logic. However, it is eminently
plausible when examined in depth: people are becoming more intelligent. And
because the IQ curve is steadily rising, the hackneyed ploys devised by the
elite to deceive the masses are failing.
In contemporary Britain we know only around half the population votes. But
non-voting is rational. There is no real difference between the major Western
political parties, who have a preoccupation with the highly paid upper-middle
class and complete indifference to the concerns of the vast majority (largely
because they are themselves so wildly unrepresentative). On top of which,
it is not really a democracy, anyway. In Britain the majority consistently
favour the death penalty, and the liberal elite continually deny them. It isn’t
space plasma physics: a primary school child can see that mass opinion is
completely ignored in Britain on virtually every issue. Hence non-voting is a
wholly rational response in a largely non-democratic society. The rise of the
BNP is not the emergence of political racism so often described; rather, it
represents a rational protest vote on the part of the disenfranchised that
forces the oligarchy to listen. And it works: only since the white working
class started voting BNP has their very existence received grudging acceptance
by the elite after an infinity of neglect. No behaviour could be more rational.
with non-voting is a rising tide of contempt for the elite and their interests.
Furthermore, this contempt is completely rational. It extends to high art –
where the game is truly up. Listening to someone like Tracey Emin makes any
rational person realise that modern art is utter nonsense. As Jean Gimpel cites
in the Cult of Art, modern art largely exists to exclude the masses from the
cultural life. Its vaunted conceptual content is completely spurious, a farrago
of Freudian nonsense.
intellectual terms, the game is up with Freud, Marx, and Feminism. Most
educated people today wonder how these irrational anachronisms lasted so long
against socio-biology and sociology. The rising IQ of the general population
has cut through them, leaving their smashed remnants around its iron shod feet.
Eysenck’s devastating defeat of Freud is now common knowledge.
collapse of organised religion in the West coincides neatly with the Flynn
Effect. The textual discrepancies in the New Testament are highlighted in best
sellers like The Jesus Mysteries. The fact that Church going (like voting) is
now the preserve of the elderly is not without significance in relation to
The use of
national Lottery funds – overwhelmingly provided by the poor – to finance the
pleasures of the rich (opera houses and abstract art galleries) has provoked an
enormous outcry. Even a generation ago such upper-middle class effrontery would
have been met by dumb acquiescence – not today.
also mass resentment at having to pay a TV licence – effectively a levy on the
population to give patronising Public Schoolboys careers.
elite eccentrics who stress the value of work and effort know they are talking
nonsense. Why should they fool anyone else? Crime is rational. Crime is the
only way for disenfranchised males to get money and its attendant pleasures of
sex and ease. Honest toil offers no rewards whatever. While once, only the most
spirited and intelligent of the poor would opt for a life of crime (something
pointed out by H.G. Wells a century ago), the Flynn Effect has secured the mass
criminality we see around us.
looked specifically at mass disenchantment with the meaningless fanfare of
‘democratic’ politics and the eccentric injunctions of the elite in general. On
issues like sentencing, immigration, Asylum Seekers and so on the broad masses
remain deeply critical. No one is fooled by elites who promote multiculturalism
while sending their children to traditional private schools, any more. Other
signs of burgeoning mass intelligence (than merely not voting and the other
issues we have considered) include:
· Men not getting married (they don't want to be destitute after divorce).
· People not breeding (a child is now to best way to spend one’s best years in
· Contempt for formal education (liberal education being little more than a
ludicrous attempt to impose elite values and experience outside a moneyed
lifestyle – as many an unemployed Graduate has discovered).
· (In the UK) not enlisting in the armed forces. Why should the disenfranchised
defend a socio-political system that has utterly rejected them? In fact, most
people favour a period of National Service to give elite youth some taste of
consensus reality and develop understanding between the different social
· Rejection of insulated elite opinion on a vast range of issues including law,
politics, psychology, healthcare, victim’s rights and the Welfare State. The
rising IQ curve has been like awakening from a dream in many respects. We live
in an exciting intellectual age where various elite Sacred Cows – Freud, Marx,
artistic Modernism, left-liberalism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, child-centred
learning and paternalism – have been challenged and comprehensively refuted
after decades of tired hegemony.
· Mass concern about the misapplication of liberal values to unsuitable social
groups. Upper middle class liberal values permeate all social groups,
especially those to whom they are most harmful (the urban poor). Without their
traditional internal thrift and discipline, the poor are rapidly collapsing
People have disengaged with
electoral politics. However, the massive success of writers like Ann Coulter
and Michael Moore paradoxically show that mass interest in political debate is
alive and well. Neither of these political celebrities has anything positive to
say. Their entire function is to attack the liberal (Coulter) and conservative
(Moore) upper-middle class. Viewed as a total phenomenon, they have achieved
celebrity by critiquing the snobbery, remoteness, elitism and hypocrisy of the
elite. Hatred of the elite seems to be the dominant political factor in America.
This is increasingly shared in mainland Europe and Britain. Hence the
conceptual fireworks detonated by the success of right-wing populists like the
BNP are common to most Western nations.
The older democratic political
structures no longer mean much. All parties - nominal
liberals/conservatives in the West - seem completely out of touch with
intelligent mass opinion. For example, probably 90% of Americans, Britons (or
whoever) now want drugs legalized. But no way will they ever be. Nominal
Western democracies grossly underestimate the intelligence and maturity of
their populations. Political parties are woodenly partisan and out of touch. A
new mood is growing in the masses - a radical liberalism, if you will - which
wants commonsense on issues like drugs/pornography/prostitution, an end to
upper-middle class exemption from societal obligations, an end to liberal
elitist hypocrisy (multiculturalism for the poor but not for leafy suburbs).
Until this movement finds active political expression the alienation of most
from 'democratic politics' (i.e. upper-middle class eccentricity and hypocrisy)
will worsen. In other words we need democracy that treats people like
grown-ups, not infants.
politics no longer reflects mass opinion in any Western nation. In fact, the
international political class is still rooted in the 1950s, assuming everyone
goes to Church, is married and has 2.4 children. You only have to listen to the
panel on Question Time to realise this is so. The brute fact that Britain is now
secular, for example, seldom impinges on their eccentric discourse.
say the mass social criticism I describe as characteristic of the West.
Perhaps, but half the population (or more) not voting is new. Also, the
discontent is with the general remoteness of the elites, not specific issues.
There is mass awareness that Western societies are run by a self-serving,
remote and uninformed upper-middle class cadre. This is quite distinct from the
specifically middle class 'radicalism' of the Sixties.
A specific, probably Flynn-related
crisis in Anglo Saxon culture is the collapse of mass faith in upper-middle
class opinion. Since the soft sciences (psychology, sociology) are essentially
faltering and non-scientific, they are prey to the unjustified assumptions of
their practitioners. But most people do not accept that mass killers are ‘ill’,
that multiculturalism works or that non-selective education is fair. In fact,
low voting levels and general political disengagement owe much to mass
dissatisfaction with such unfounded elite assumptions.
What is key to the problem is the
lack of contact between classes in the West. In real terms elites are no more
accepting of pedophiles, immigrants or Asylum Seekers than the poor. Their
liberalism depends on the distance afforded from these issues by high incomes.
The rise of
the far right and mass alienation from ‘democracy’ is symptomatic of a collapse
of faith in the sanctity of upper-middle class opinion. It is self-evident that
the elite are too detached from mass experience to pass meaningful social
comment or formulate constructive social policy. The lower middle class and
aspirant working classes no longer listen to elite opinion – and justifiably
so. The Rising Curve that frees the majority from intellectual deference has
crossed its Rubicon.