Is individualism genetic and is it good?

There is a kind of meme in the Blogosphere, including the Manosphere, to the effect that individualism or “love of liberty” is a feature of some particular ethnic groups, and that it is possibly genetic.

I certainly have no problem with the concept that genetics can influence personality and that some ethnic groups could be genetically more inclined to certain kinds of social arrangements. I have even toyed with the idea that our personal mate preferences might be similarly affected by our genetics, in what would have once have been called “race memory”. (Perhaps a man fancies a particular kind of girl because that is the kind of girl his great-great-grandfather fancied; that kind of suggestion).

At the broadest level, JP Rushton, a Canadian psychologist, has argued that some human groups are more r-selected and some more K-selected. By definition, to be r-selected is to have a lot of young, whereas to be K-selected is to have fewer young but provide them individually with more family care.

According to Rushton, Asians are the most K-selected human group, Whites are intermediate, and Blacks are more r-selected. He relates this back to the environments in which the “races” evolved. I understand that Rushton has also expressed the view that Asians are accordingly more family-minded and Blacks more individualistic than Whites.

A typical Blogosphere argument about ethnicity and individualism might, for example, run that the Scots-Irish in America have an innate love of liberty, inherited from their forebears among the “clans” or “families” (surnames) on the English/Scots border.

However, there are a few questions that come to mind about such a claim:

To what extent was this individualism simply the result of weak central government in the border region?

Is clannishness related to true individualism? If so, why is similar clannishness which has been identified among Jews, Catholic Irish and Italians usually not valourised?

Does bad government encourage clannishness and extreme family affiliation (as in Italy or in the Scots/English border region) whereas good government (say British) encourages genuine individualism (with every Englishman’s home being his castle, as they say)?

Was the border clannishness on a large scale (with whole “surnames” acting together) replicated in some sense among their Scots-Irish descendants in America, as historian David Hackett Fischer has argued? Or was the latter only a scaled-down family-sized version of the original?

Lastly, if individualism is a good thing, and Blacks have more of it genetically than Whites, including the Scots-Irish say, does this make Blacks superior in this respect?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Quote: “” if individualism is a good thing, and Blacks have more of it genetically than Whites, including the Scots-Irish say, does this make Blacks superior in this respect?””

    Getting a bit ahead of ourselves, despite the ‘lastly’, aren’t we? Who says a ‘good’ as in individualism is a) a good at all and b) has any bearing on ‘superiority’. ?

    Then there is the objectiveity of the ‘good’ vs the subjectivity.

    It is an interesting subject nonetheless.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on September 23, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      I am just asking rhetorical questions, trying to show that easy assumptions about what is good can lead to curious conclusions. And to show the incoherence of assuming that “love of liberty” is inborn and necessarily a good thing. After all, a mafia don has a great love of liberty.


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