Delayed Gratification

Rod Liddle in The Spectator

The body of this post has been copied to a safe place pending a decision by Boadicea. It will be reinstated and re-opened for comments if, and when, she concludes that it is appropriate material for the Chariot.   Bearsy.

Having read the full text of this post, I have decided that it will not be published.

I find the article in The Spectator offensive. I fail to see how ‘Indigenous Australians’ behaved in the 1920s (long before most had contact with European habits) has any relevance to the lazy ‘Indigenous British’ who fail to toilet train their children, despite being exposed to the wonders of the ‘Water Closet’ for several generations.

My apologies for the chequered history of this post – but I am rather busy on other matters.

I have re-opened the post for comments.
Boadicea

27 thoughts on “Delayed Gratification”

  1. “I fail to see how ‘Indigenous Australians’ behaved in the 1920s (long before most had contact with European habits) has any relevance to the lazy ‘Indigenous British’ who fail to toilet train their children, despite being exposed to the wonders of the ‘Water Closet’ for several generations.”

    Are you serious? Did you actually read the article? If so, did you really find it that difficult to understand?

    You, I assume I am talking to Boadicea, may have had extended dealings with Aboriginals, but I have had extended dealings with African natives (for the record I am speaking about sub-Saharan Africans). My comment, which you found fit to delete, though curiously you left the link to the ‘offensive’ article in the Spectator, referred to the apparent inability of the indigenous people of Africa to plan. I see evidence of that all day, every day. What is more there is plenty of rationale to explain such a phenomenon.

    What I find so laughable, is that you and people like you, i.e. well educated, for reasons best known to yourselves, are unable to examine or even question the facts behind such a glaringly obvious situation. My contention (that Africans inherently lack the ability to plan ahead) would go a long way to explain why Africa is a basket case and always has been when compared to Western Civilization; or any other civilization for that matter. It would explain why African groups, in what ever country they live, tend to be at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. As unpalatable as that may seem, it is a fact.

    Rod Liddle, who given his position must care about his public persona and therefore is probably careful about what he says, seems to agree. Though, instead of using Africa, he uses Britain to explain how a culture of instant gratification, which amounts to the same thing as being unable to plan, damages society. The difference between Britain (Europe) and Africa is that European races have proved their inherent ability to plan ahead. It is just a cultural shift born out of technical progress, that has made many people abandon that facility. Africans have never proven their ability; anywhere or at any time.

    It genuinely upsets me that society refuses to examine the causes behind the relative success and failures of various races. They take the easy way out and blame racism, and (short term) historical circumstances. They completely ignore the Darwinian cause that is staring them in the face. Until we acknowledge the true causes we cannot generate a solution to racial strife and inequality.

    I have a copy of what I wrote originally and I cannot for the life of me see what is so particularly offensive about it especially when juxtaposed with some of the comments written by other members on this site.

  2. A few thoughts in haste.

    I didn’t find Riddle’s post offensive but then I have never met an Aboriginal.

    I have never visited, nor lived in Africa. I don’t think a holiday in Tunisia counts.

    I didn’t see Sipu’s original post.

    I regularly read The Spectator, and thus far have never found anything written there offensive.

    I do understand why Sipu thinks as he does, he is a product, as we all are of our education and environment.

    Sipu.

    I don’t altogether agree with your comment above, but I don’t find it offensive. I have tried to write a sensible comment which explains why I disagree, but failed miserably, and lost a couple of attempts. I’m a bit like Janus, I will have to think about it.

  3. I might have some sympathy with your point of view, Sipu, if I did not see that large sections of Western, White Society are incapable of deferring their gratification.

    The biggest problem we in the West face is that far too many people are into the ‘we want-it all-and we-want-it-now’ mindset. It has nothing to do with colour of skin, and everything to do with the culture being promoted by the likes of Steve Jobs and his ilk…

  4. After a bit of thought, I seriously doubt whether behavioural trends like those referred to have much, if anything, to do with genetic roots or ethnic differences. Communities acquire cultures, yes, but that’s the result of ‘nurture’, not ‘nature’. And those cultures may affect their political ‘will’. Isn’t it fair to say that many aboriginal peoples have had their social and political wings clipped; so that their lives have become focussed on ‘today’.

  5. Btw, “It genuinely upsets me that society refuses to examine the causes behind the relative success and failures of various races.”

    I don’t. People’s (irrespective of race) successes and failures are surely the product of environment and opportunity.

    The generalisations in the quotation (society and various races) seem baseless.

  6. Thank you Ara and Boadicea for your comments.

    I think it might help to understand my thoughts on this if I express them one step at a time and concentrate more on the arguments than the style.

    First of all I hope we can all agree that generally speaking, delayed gratification tends to help society progress. By putting the work in now, we can anticipate rewards in the future.

    However, delaying gratification comes at a cost. If there is an unlimited amount of food readily available, and likely to be for the near future, why struggle to ensure that there will be food tomorrow? Likewise, if there is plenty of energy available to keep one warm during winter, why struggle to ensure that there will be energy next year. While you are working so hard, others are relaxing and procreating.

    So, as long as there is a plentiful supply of food, warmth and other basic necessities readily available, you are wasting your energies trying to achieve more. As a species, you are better off reproducing. That is the fundamental principle of Darwinism and the basis of Richard Dawkins’s Selfish Gene. It is an energy trade off between the need to survive and the need to reproduce.

    In large parts of Africa, the climate is generally very pleasant. While it can certainly get too hot, it seldom gets terribly cold. Surviving winter is not a problem in the way that it is in more extreme climes, such as northern Europe. Before the arrival of the Europeans, your average African tribesman subsisted on what nature provided. Game was plentiful and so he was able to hunt. The soil was fertile and the climate beneficial, so there was plenty of wild fruit and roots etc for him to gather. Because there was no winter as such, there was no need to build up supplies of food for the future. While there were certainly droughts and other natural catastrophes, they could not be predicted in the way that winter can be predicted. Thus, even if any individual did recognise the need to keep supplies of food, his efforts were likely wasted because the calamity might not happen until after the food had rotted. So, while he was expending his energies working for the future, his neighbours would be out there hunting, gathering and reproducing. There was no benefit to his planning characteristic. In fact there was a disadvantage because he would have fewer children. The genetic trait would less likely be passed on.

    In Europe, the reverse is/was true. Winters are harsh. If an early tribesman did not plan ahead and store food during the summer, he and his family would die. The planning trait was a distinct advantage. Non planners and idle layabouts died. Those with foresight and a capacity for hard work survived and passed on their genes. That is what is known as Natural Selection.

    Since the Industrial Revolution, humanity has been much better able to control its environment. We can grow more food than we need. We can provide far more energy than we actually need to survive. We can control diseases far more easily. We can even control the climate to some extent through air conditioning; (in the early 50s, industries in the freezing northern US began moving to the much warmer south leaving behind the rustbelt. This was very largely due to the invention of effective air conditioning) while our ability to predict the weather enables us to take advantage of its quirks. We have climbed way up Maslow’s Pyramid. We no longer struggle for survival as we once did.

    As a result, people in the West no longer see the need to plan ahead. Why perform hard work in the fields harvesting vegetables, or work on building sites as all those immigrants do, when you can get a well paid job as an instant celebrity? Why get a job at all when the state will pay you to do nothing? Why go through the bother of potty training your child, when modern disposable nappies absorb so much excrement that the child remains comfortable and does not whinge? Why save up your whole life for a pension when the government is going to tax it out of existence. Why take the effort to give the best education to your child when the government is going to penalise you for being middle class and having aspirations? Right now, we have not yet lost the inherent ability to plan ahead, it is just that many of us do not see the point of it. And indeed, there is little point. But, the trait for planning ahead can be bred out of us.

    In colonising Africa we, the West, brought our skills, knowledge and methods to the people there. Suddenly Africans began benefitting from the advances we have made which arose as a result of our much harsher environment. There numbers increased dramatically because of we brought them. They still did not have to do anything other than subsist but Europeans ensured that there was enough food, clothing and medicine.

    A Labrador has the inherent ability to retrieve. But unless its owner works with it to do so, i.e. he trains it, it is never going to be particularly effective. But give one of its puppies to a keen owner, and that puppy will be capable of becoming an excellent retriever. On the other hand no amount of training will ever make a Greyhound anything like as a good a bird-dog as a well trained Labrador. Both have inherent skills that arose from their Selected Breeding. The difference between human races and dog breeds is that our selection was natural, dog selection was artificial.

    All dog breeds can interbreed, just as can all human races, but certain genetic traits are particular to certain breeds and carry with them certain advantages and disadvantages depending on the environment and circumstances.

    Right now, in the Western world, Africans have a distinct advantage over Europeans. Their inherent inability to plan means that they can take advantage of the situation where food and energy are plentiful, while Europeans have an inbuilt motivation to go and work. They will outbreed Europeans until such time as the workers are no longer able to support the idle and society collapses upon itself.

    I cannot speak for the Aborigines, but I can’t imagine that the scenario is very different to the one I have just painted.

  7. Janus :

    Btw, “It genuinely upsets me that society refuses to examine the causes behind the relative success and failures of various races.”

    I don’t. People’s (irrespective of race) successes and failures are surely the product of environment and opportunity.

    The generalisations in the quotation (society and various races) seem baseless.

    Janus, thanks for your comments. I hope my reply goes some way to explain my thought process.

  8. Oh, alright then (Takes deep breath and jumps in, ready to be ripped to shreds). Here’s my personal and very subjective viiew on things, although I may, as Mr Mackie would attest, be wrong. Prior to retirement, my professional hunting grounds for the previous fifteen years were 10º north and south of the Equator all the way around. It’s as big an area as you can imagine and here, for that they’re worth, are my personal and very generalistic impessions.

    Caribbean – Moved on from agriculture to tourism. The former farmer now drives a taxi or pours cocktails.

    East Africa – Subdued by generations of colonialism and aeons of genetics, totally unable to cope without European managers.

    West and Southern Africa – Basket cases unable to cope in the modern post-colonial world, Zimbabwe being a case in point. The continent could feed itself easily and export the surplus were it not for its venal, corrupt politicians.

    South Pacific – Mostly independent since the mid-seventies and, since then, members of the Commonwealth. A lot of board rooms retain a photograph of the Queen circa 1965 on the wall, but still lack exposure to global markets and dependent on international aid.

    French Colonial Territories – Don’t even go there. All there is to greet you when you descend from the plane is a superannuated gendarme, a Citroen, the effin’ tricolor on the masthead and a sullen, resentful population carrying baguettes home for lunch.

    OZ

  9. OZ, you have confirmed my suspicion that human beings of any hue can be subjugated into serfdom as a way of life. Thank you. 😉

  10. Hi Sipu.

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you about the different climatic conditions, having a bearing on the need to plan ahead, but what you are describing is the different stages that mankind has gone through; the hunter gatherer, the farmer or the agrarian society, or subsistence farmer, the mechanisation of farming due to the development of towns and cities, and then industrialisation.

    It was probably no accident that the industrial revolution began in Western Europe and in Britain in particular when the need for a larger market and more raw materials fuelled the expansion of the British Empire.

    This did indeed give rise to the imposition of our form of democracy in Africa and other parts of the world. But would it be true to say that according to your analysis the indigenous population were still at the hunter gatherer stage? It’s hardly surprising then that our particular form of democracy which had been evolving for some centuries did not actually “take” when we left. I don’t think it is due to genetic differences in reality, just different stages of development of the society in question.

    It is my understanding that most of the African Americans arrived in the US via the slave trade, and they had to battle for their civil rights they are now, due to education and more opportunities, indistinguishable from any other American citizen save for their colour.

    Apologies for the generalisations and possible inaccuracies!

  11. PS. I neglected to add the final thought, that what you describe as genetic differences, I would describe as a human reaction to environmental conditions.

  12. I agree with #7.

    It is interesting to note that the tribes in the American West that had to deal with much harsher winters and planned food etc lasted much longer in their resistance to the whites than did those in the climaticallybenign South East who basicallly couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag.

    Equally black people who make it good in the USA rarely are! Nearly all of them are part white to a degree.
    I lived in Memphis for 6 years and could see first hand that the blacks who had no education and were still on the land were a damned sight blacker than their fancy civil rights lawyers who were distinctly cafe au lait.
    Correction ara, most blacks did not battle for their rights and still don’t, they can’t even be bothered to vote! A few battled on behalf of the many and most of them had white blood.

    It is interesting to note that those of us here who have lived and worked in multi racial countries where whites are the minority tend to see it the same way. I really do get so tired of people pontificating on race who have no bloody idea of what goes on in reality. The prune faced, lemon mouthed cry of racism from the depth of the armchair in a safe white suburb is becoming a seriously bad joke, almost as bad as those that couldn’t tell the difference between paedophilia and paediatrics.

    re #12 its a pity you will never have any as neighbours and allow you to find out the nature v nurture debate first hand!

  13. Re your neighbours comment, any neighbours here are likely to be of roughly the same socio-economic group as I am, whatever their colour. I’m not entirely sure there is any genetic disposition to be either a good or bad neighbour! 🙂

    That apart, I would concede that my views are determined, as are those of most of us, by our circumstances, education and environment and as I pointed out in my comment #3, I have never visited Africa.

  14. Just a quick comment. I’m with Araminta – it’s ‘circumstances, education and environment’ that count not genetics.

  15. Just last night our son was talking about a book he’d read. Apparently the successful Kenyan distance runners all come from the same area, where they are forced to run long distances to get to school, etc. The successful African-American sprinters know that sport is the only way they are going to do well in American society.

  16. Tina.

    Further to your #13, I know little about the blackness or otherwise of civil rights leaders, but Martin Luther King and going back further, Booker T. Washington, looked pretty black to me!

    As for voting, if one is to believe statistics from Wiki:

    “Collectively, African Americans are more involved in the American political process than other minority groups in the United States, indicated by the highest level of voter registration and participation in elections among these groups in 2004. African Americans collectively attain higher levels of education than immigrants to the United States. African Americans also have the highest level of Congressional representation of any minority group in the U.S.”

  17. Re 17, 2004?
    Since then?
    Hispanics are far more involved.
    Besides which, Blacks are not an immigrant group!!!!! They have been there since the beginning, they are all obviously pre 1865 and a lot since 1700s
    Statistics and sheer lies, Wiki is one heap of crap on occasions, how are they to be compared with muslims straight off the boat?
    generally less than 40% of blacks even register to vote not withstanding people calling door to door to assist them and of those not a lot vote.

    Yes of course some are full blood, I never claimed otherwise, but MOST aren’t! As usual the facts on the ground are never reflected truthfully in the PCcrap floating around.

  18. Oh right, I bow to your superior knowledge, Tina, but since you have just confessed to xenophobia at a very early age on Sheona’s post, might one factor that into the equation?

  19. Ah, thank you, LW. I’m sorry, I will behave myself but some facts are always good, although I didn’t actually disbelieve Tina’s assertions, and I was certainly not convinced by Wiki.

    Very interesting statistics from the Mail.

  20. Long lunch yesterday.
    Thanks for contributions.

    I do not understand how some people refuse to acknowledge that it is perfectly rational to draw a parallel between human races and dog breeds. As far as I can see my analogy regarding Labradors and Greyhounds is entirely valid. Many have disagreed with me about this in the past, but nobody has ever provided any cogent argument as to why it I may be wrong. Saying that it has nothing to do with genetics, just does not cut it. Genetic diversity as a result of thousands of years of natural selection is bound to have an impact. To deny that is to demonstrate an ignorance of even the rudiments of evolution.

    Given all the evidence I can only conclude that those who deny racial differences do so for philosophical reasons rather than scientific ones.

    In any event, whatever conclusion one reaches, I still find Rod Liddle’s article very interesting. We in the West are tending more and more to seek instant gratification. It will be our downfall.

  21. Sipu: it’s simple, really. Dogs are bred, people are usually not. Ethnic groups usually are formed by cultural and physical features which arise from natural mingling. Dog breeds form as a result of deliberate planning on the part of humans. In general people tend to procreate with those from their own ethnic/cultural background. Dogs are indiscriminate, hence the dominance of the mutt in the natural world.

    There is no scientific explanation to race or racial differences. Well-educated, intelligent black people are no less capable than similar Asians or Caucasians. Some groups of people just have different priorities.

  22. Christopher, it is simple, but I am afraid that you are wrong. The only difference between the two scenarios is that one is Natural Selection and the other Artificial Selection. The former produces results more rapidly, but the second does bring about genetic change. It is the very basis of the Origin of Species. I find it staggering that so few people cannot acknowledge that. You only have to look at outward appearances of all the different races to realise that genetic change has taken place since migrants first left Africa 30-50,000 years ago. European ancestors from that period were, presumably, typically negroid. Since then, succeeding generations have evolved to have an Aryan appearance.

    If physical differences occur to the skin, hair, eyes, height, weight, propensity for certain diseases etc, why is it so illogical to conclude that changes can occur in behavioral characteristics as well? We know that within our own communities, families, friends etc, there are some who are more gregarious than others; some who are more industrious, some who are more intelligent, brave, generous, optimistic and so forth. Are you seriously suggesting that environment alone is responsible for these differing character traits? That is just laughable. Of course environment does play a part, but so do the genes. Two brilliant people who breed are more likely to produce intelligent children than two individuals who suffer from learning difficulties, to use the politically correct term. It is not guaranteed, but it is likely. Continued over centuries, however, and a trend will certainly emerge.

    I think it is probably safe to say that most women admire brave men. Thus a man enhances his chances of finding a wife and reproducing if he can demonstrate his bravery. Shaka Zulu, took it one step further and only allowed his warriors to marry if they had proved their success in battle. It resulted in a fierce, war-like and dare I say violent people who were physically larger than neigbouring tribes. (That is more artificial selection than natural.) (The history of Mzilikazi and the Matabele makes the same point.)

    But it is not always the case that bravery advances the opportunities for procreation. In the WW1, vast numbers of young men were killed on an industrial scale. To be brave then was almost certainly a death sentence. People who were more cowardly but had the wits to avoid being sent to the front were much more likely to survive and, given the scarcity of men at the end of the war, had no trouble finding wives despite their lack of courage. To be brave during the period 1914-18 was not such a genetic advantage.

    The environment in which a community lives may be hostile. Those best equipped to survive it are the ones most likely to succeed in the reproduction stakes. Their offspring will bear their survival characteristics. The ENVIRONMENT Selects the characteristics, i.e. NATURAL SELECTION. For example, the enhanced total lung capacity of Andean highlanders has an environmental and genetic base. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8907759 Pure bred Aymara people who have lived their entire lives at lower altitudes will have increased lung capacity. That means they inherited the trait from previous generations. Surely you will acknowledge that such a beneficial trait survived and is so widespread amongst the community because those that possessed it were better able to adapt to the harsh environment of such a high altitude? If you did not have it you died, or you went elsewhere to live.

    Your last paragraph is just plain wrong. There is plenty of scientific evidence for racial difference and it is dishonest to suggest otherwise. Most though not all scientists are just too plain scared to talk about it. Do you remember the Bell Curve http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve or the trashing Nobel Laureate James Watson received when he suggested as much in 2007?

    As for ‘Well-educated, intelligent black people are no less capable than similar Asians or Caucasians’, while that may be true (though I would certainly take issue with you about it), it does not account for the fact that there are far fewer of the former than the latter. One of the reasons being, I suggest, that Whites and Caucasians are better at Delaying Gratification than Blacks. QED.

  23. Janus, do you really believe that your comments contribute anything to the debate? You seem incapable of putting together any form of argument whatsoever. I don’t mind being told I am wrong, but cant you at least try to provide some reasons to support your contention. Calling me names just makes you look silly.

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