29 October 2012

Vlucht in de Medemens

text of a reply to someone who recently wrote to me, having read the Dutch edition of The Human Evasion (‘Vlucht in de Medemens’) some years ago, and having put part of it on the web

Dear ...

I wrote The Human Evasion under duress. I was in a terrible position, having been exiled from a university career, and my previous distress flares had brought me no alleviation of my position.

I thought people would be inclined to turn the book into a belief system, and in writing it I tried to make this as difficult for them as possible. I am amazed that it can be taken as showing that ‘there is a way out’!

I do not think that freedom, as you suggest, is a word for ‘nothing left to lose’. Freedom, in my mind, is something that society has been trying to keep me deprived of throughout my life.

If part of my book is being inserted into someone else’s book, or on someone else’s website, could there at least be added a note expressing my position, namely that I am desperately in need of help (or freedom) in the way of money (commensurate with setting up institutional environments, since I am still excluded from the socially accredited ones from which I was thrown out in the first place), and in need of people coming to work here. Also, what I have published has been only the tiniest fraction of what I might have said if there were any market for it.

If you have any sympathy with my position, or even recognition of the fact that I myself regard it as intolerable and in need of relief, come for a vacation, perhaps at Christmas – though that is just a delay to coincide with a social convention, so why not come immediately.

You would have to help with any work that needs to be done and which you know enough to do, which limits it to jobs regarded as ‘unskilled’ or ‘menial’. You would get to know a bit about our outlook, and what we regard as our urgent need for opportunity to do what is (from some points of view) important.

Also, you would get to know about the advantages that people might gain in association with us. Even if you never come permanently yourself, you would at least be able to give other people more realistic cues.

When the Dutch edition of The Human Evasion was published I was fed up (as with every other edition of my books published by an outside publisher, and hence with any chance of being reviewed, and bought and read on a decent scale) that I was given no opportunity to contribute an introduction explaining my position and desperate needs. Without such an introduction to put each book in context, from my point of view it might as well not have been published at all, and the efforts that had gone into writing it in bad circumstances were abortive.

How about coming? There is a pub very near to us where you could get bed and breakfast.


People often seem to use their own lack of money as an excuse for not coming to help. They say to themselves ‘Celia Green obviously needs money, and I don’t have any’, and do not even offer to come to do some work here, however enthusiastic they may sound about my ideas (as they interpret them). Usually they do not even come for a visit when I have definitely invited them to come.

There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but they are very infrequent. It would have been nice if this person was one of them.

I am now very used to people’s unexpansiveness, but this long-standing feature of human psychology is no more helpful to me now than it was when I had just left college and was attempting to set up my own research department, with residential and dining facilities and live-in caretaking staff.

The fact that I need financial support on the scale necessary to set up institutional environments does not mean that we could not find ways of supporting potential new workers; however, no plans can be made until we have experience of their compatibility with us and of what, in practice, they are able to do.

12 October 2012

A ‘level playing field’?

The provision of free state education used to be described as creating a ‘level playing field’. However, it may be wondered whether the real purpose was to iron out the advantages of genetic IQ.

In the early 1940s, and probably also earlier, it was still acceptable to suggest that the effect of state education would be to oppose and damage the prospects of those with above-average IQs.

The following, for example, is an extract from an essay entitled ‘The Uncommon Man’, in which the novelist and essayist Charles Morgan discusses the oncoming ‘age of the Common Man’, and the educational conformity which he thought would result.
If the governing idea is to be that of the Common Man and all things are to be shaped to his supposed needs, education must conform to his conformity, and educational authorities, with a dutiful eye on the Common Boy, must deny exceptional opportunity to exceptional boys. (*)
I do not know what the powers of ‘educational authorities’ were at the time Morgan wrote this. I believe they were given much greater powers of interference in the 1944 Education Act, so that they subsequently had the right to enquire into, and specify changes in, the running of private schools and the circumstances of those being educated at home.

The essay by Charles Morgan was certainly written before the 1944 Education Act, and about ten years before I was prevented from taking the School Certificate exam (the exam then usually taken at 16) at the age of 13.

In 1944, when Morgan’s collection of essays, Reflections in a Mirror, was published, I was eight or nine, and unaware that I was about to run the gauntlet of a hostile educational system.

However, the ideology which was to shape the Education Act and later education policy was already having some effect on my life, via my parents and my school.

At the small private primary school I attended, I was sheltered from the hostile attention of the local authority and was treated politely, as was everyone else there. When there were periods for reading on one's own, while the other pupils read books from the general collection available in the classroom, the headmistress provided me with more adult books (for example, historical novels which could be regarded as educational).

Yet neither the school nor my parents made any efforts to encourage my attempts to learn sciences or languages, or to make me aware of exams in such things that I could be working for.

When I taxed my mother with this, long after my university career (and my parents’ lives) had been ruined, my mother claimed that there were no exams like the School Certificate that could be taken during the war years.

‘Well, at least’, I would say, ‘I could have been learning some languages, and even sciences, properly so that I could take exams in them as quickly as possible as soon as it became possible to do so.’

In drawing attention to the negative effects of the new ideology, Charles Morgan was expressing a position which is unlikely to be viewed as acceptable nowadays. Nevertheless, the ideology was clearly on the way in even in 1944, and people of Morgan’s class were tacitly accepting the greater part of it. Earlier in the same essay, Morgan wrote:
There are two kinds of law – law that requires and law that forbids. ... To refuse all [law that requires] would be to revert to an extreme policy of laissez-faire, and this is neither possible nor to be desired.

But there is a real distinction between those who wish to preserve and those who, in pursuit of the theory of the Common Man, wish to overthrow that balance between positive and negative law upon which has hitherto rested our whole conception of a community at once orderly and free.
Unfortunately for critics of conformity, once you accept the need for state intervention, and limit yourself to arguing about the detail, you have essentially lost the battle.

* originally published in The Times Literary Supplement, reprinted in Charles Morgan, Reflections in a Mirror, Macmillan, 1944

06 October 2012

‘Class warfare’ as a cover for IQ warfare

Critics have accused Ed Miliband of ‘class war’ tactics after he devoted most of a party political broadcast to the fact he went to a comprehensive school.

In an attempt to compare his background with that of Eton-educated David Cameron, the Labour leader makes repeated references to the fact he was educated at Haverstock School in North London.

But a backbench Tory MP called the broadcast ‘a bit rich’, given that Mr Miliband’s background is far from ordinary. Weaver Vale’s Graham Evans, who grew up in a council house and left school with few qualifications, pointed out Mr Miliband was born to a very well-off family which was part of the ‘Labour elite’. ‘Whenever a wannabe prime minister tries to use class war, I think it’s ridiculous,’ he said. ‘I am a working class lad who went to a comprehensive, but I think it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re going to that matters. It is a bit rich for him to say I am a normal bloke just because I went to a comprehensive school. Most will look at the broadcast and think he’s just from the Labour elite.’

Mr Miliband is the son of Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, who was close to prominent Labour figures in the 1960s and 1970s and lived in a large house in Primrose Hill, North London.

In the broadcast, to be shown tonight, Mr Miliband is filmed in a classroom at his former school. He says: ‘I’ll always be grateful to Haverstock because I honestly don’t believe I’d be leader of the Labour Party if it wasn’t for the grounding, the education, the learning about life that I had from this school.’ The broadcast also includes former teachers and students who were taught politics by Mr Miliband at Harvard University in 2002 and 2003.

Meanwhile, in a New Statesman interview shadow chancellor Ed Balls said he thought private schools were a barrier to social mobility and social justice but admitted he ‘enjoyed’ his private education at Nottingham High School. (Daily Mail, 2 October 2012)
It seems extraordinary that Ed Miliband’s academic success must be ascribed either to his comprehensive school or to his advantageous home background. The debate about the causes of his success is able to continue indefinitely without even a passing reference to the possibility that he might have inherited an IQ somewhat above average from a father who was known as a leading intellectual.

I know that there is a strong wish to believe that there is no hereditary factor at all in IQ or in related personality attributes. But it is remarkable that this has led to a universal belief so strong that any mention of the possibility that it might not be so is suppressed.

Apparently the social consensus would like to believe that intelligence is created by social influence. Society must own the individual body and soul. There can be no doubt that it owns him bodily by the time it has set up a National Health Service, and an army of social workers to take him into care (away from his parents) at the earliest possible age, if they see fit.

In spite of all this, there remains a lingering suspicion that IQ is not created by ‘education’.

In the article quoted, Ed Miliband is also credited with saying that the country has ‘deep problems – about who Britain is run for, and who prospers in it, about one rule for those at the top and, too often, another rule for everyone else’.

Considering the distribution of power, one might well conclude that Britain is ‘run’ for the benefit of people with a fairly high, but not necessarily outstanding IQ, who have a liking for political power, and for interfering with others.

In other words, the country is run for the benefit of agents of the collective, of whom Ed Miliband himself is one of the better-paid ones, who are rewarded for interfering in people’s lives. Prominent among them is the medical ‘profession’, as well as teachers, social workers, lawyers, and purveyors of psychological ‘help’.

It might be imagined that the country is run for those who receive the benefits which are administered by agents of the collective, but if you think this, you should think again.

What they receive is what others consider suitable for them, and generally involves surrender of freedom. Even when it is money rather than a dubious ‘service’ which is being provided, this is handed out only when there is an obvious drain of a socially acceptable kind on the expenditure of the recipient.