Race

Louis R Godena louisgodena at ids.net
Mon Aug 26 10:19:57 MDT 1996


Rakesh, poking out from his footnote maze,  informs us that:

>... that it makes no more biological sense to  classify
>Hungarians and Finns in different races as it does blacks and whites.  (See
>John Vandermeer's *Reconstructing Biology* for a brief, clearly argued
>presentation from which the above has been gleaned or the work of Richard
>Lewontin, *Not In Our Genes*.)

True enough,  Rakesh,  advances in immunology and protein chemistry over the
past fifty years have had the corollary of proving that fully 75 per cent of
human monomorphic proteins are common to ALL populations.    Nor do
exhaustive studies of highly polymorphic gene types reveal any
discrimination in occurrence between one "racial group" and another.
There is,  as you imply,  simply no sound genetic basis for the division of
humanity into categorically defined races.    Unfortunately,  MIM believes
that it is sufficient merely to assert.    A reflection, no doubt,  on their
own efforts to fashion a "scientific" thesis based on such hasty pudding
productions as Mr.  Saki's *Settlers*,  quite possibly the most foolishly
argued bit of reductio ad absurdum I have ever read.

Speaking of fools,  few would willingly cross swords with Mr Rakesh over the
murky subject of bibliography,  but I would like to suggest a rare revision
to his helpful note.    True,  R.C.  Lewontin is listed as one of the
authors,  with Stephen Rose and Leon J. Kamin,  of *Not In Our Genes*,  but
Rose wrote most of the book,  including Chapter 5 ("IQ: The Rank Ordering of
the World"),  which is most relevant to our discussion here.    In fact,
Rose wrote the book while a visiting scholar at the Museum of Comparative
Zoology at Harvard,  where Lewontin himself is headquartered.    Much of
*Not In Our Genes* came directly from the now famous Dialiectics of Biology
Conference held in Bressanone,  Italy a few earlier (Rose himself edited a
two volume summary of this remarkable symposium,  Towards a Liberatory
Biology & Against Biological Determinism [1982].   These contain several
useful essays on racial concepts as a pedigree of reductionist thinking
reach back to Descartes.

For us mere mortals on the list,  may I suggest a more germane work (written
for the general reader) by Lewontin himself,  entitled,  simply *Human
Diversity*,  a 1982 volume in the Scientific American Library (WH Freeman)?

Especially Chapter 2 ("Genes,  Environment and Organism").    His
*Dialectical Biologist* (a collection of essays written by him and Richard
Levins and published in 1985) contains what in my view is the best
introduction to the whole ontology of modern racism (Chapter 1: "Evolution
as Theory and Ideology").    Finally,  since Rakesh was so kind as to cite
the estimable John Vandermeer,  may I point to his excellent essay
"Ecological Determinism" in *Biology as a Social Weapon* edited by the Ann
Arbor Science for the People Editorial Collective (1977: Burgess Publishing
Company,  Minneapolis--"love it or loathe it,  you can never lose it or
leave it"  Or is that "Duluth"?).    Anyway,  it should be available in most
academic libraries.    If anyone REALLY wants a copy,  and can't otherwise
obtain it,  let me know.

As for the late (and appropriately unlamented Prof Herrnstein),  let us
recall that it was his infamous 1971 article in the Atlantic Monthly that
spawned--with the cloak of Harvard respectability--the revival of
"respectable" academic racism that had laid dormant since the days of the
German Nazis.

The very stuff of history.

Louis Godena





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