The term “human biological diversity” was coined- by Steve Sailer maybe?- to express the idea that human populations could be different in socially consequential ways. What is not conceptualized well is its opposite, the idea that human populations vary only by surface appearance, and that other differences can only be attributed to culture- the mainstream conservative explanation- or racial oppression, the leftist explanation.
Conservatives usually use the term “political correctness” to describe this, although all this misappropriation from Marxist thought actually means is the suppression of the discussion of human biodiversity. Mencius Moldbug has given a much more useful appellation, “human neurological uniformity.” Something this important has to be labeled well to be discussed intelligently, so I think it is best to use this term.
But how does William Jennings Bryan relate to this? Bryan is today, and has been for decades been best known as the prosecuting attorney in the Scopes monkey trial, arguing against the Darwinian theory of evolution which Clarence Darrow argued for. As an opponent of evolution, Bryan has been regarded as a clown, a buffoon, an anti-intellectual- all the worst things a liberal can call a man.
The judgment is harsh, and completely wrong. Liberals forget completely why Bryan was arguing against evolution. He was not arguing against science, but for human neurological uniformity, their most cherished belief.
Bryan was a giant of a man, and while not a great student of American history, I would suggest he is the father of modern liberalism and human neurological uniformity. Let’s look at some American history and see how this happened.
People had long been divided into classes, races, ethnicities, and nationalities; some high, some low, some civilized, some primitive. Some thought all men should be equal, others thought God had ordained some to rule. But after Darwin wrote “The Origin of Species”, people got the idea that some humans were possibly just better adapted and stronger and more intelligent than others. In the old days, you were what your father was; if he was a rich landowner, you were, if he was a blacksmith, you were, and if he was a tenant farmer, you were. This kind of social organization could be easily explained by fate, and easily seen as unjust and in need of overthrow.
With industrialization, though, some people got very rich, not from inherited land, but from their business activities. At the same time excess peasants moved into the cities, usually living in terrible conditions, often working in terrible conditions in factories owned by the first group.
This form of social organization was new and couldn’t claim the divine sanction of the hierarchical agricultural society that had existed for millenia. The idea that some people were just superior to others and were entitled to be richer and better off was appealing to the new rich. Herbert Spencer coined the term “survival of the fittest”. In the new industrial society, the few businessmen seemed destined to rule over the masses of poor, dirty, ignorant workers. What galled people even more, I think, was that the business elite controlled the lives and prosperity of farmers through the control of railroads and credit.
The idea of American democracy had been based on a society where people were mostly equal- that is, small farmers. To the extent they traded, they traded locally. Most of the food they grew they ate or sold within a wagon ride of home. But farmers settling in the Midwest needed to sell their grain and livestock in markets in the east reachable only by railroads. The relatively arid land had to be farmed in large parcels by machinery, and to make a good living he had to have easy access to credit to buy both. Assuming all else went well, he was at the mercy of prices set in cities far away. All these things could be controlled or influenced by politics, so the farmer went from a man mostly concerned with his own affairs to a man deeply involved in the political control of business and finance.
You can see that the original “private profits, public losses” crowd was not some sinister banker or industrialist but that icon of True Americanism, the “family farmer” as he was called up into the 80’s. Farmers were the original white socialists. They were businessmen who felt entitled to a good profit, which could be assured by a government that limited their costs while ensuring a good price for their product.
That’s really just an aside- the real point being that the idea of natural inequality did not sit well in a democratic society. Farmers and workers were not going to accept a subsistence existence and see all the profits of society go to business. They engaged in aggressive political activity to reign in the excesses of the Gilded Age.
While America was expanding and industrializing, Germany was uniting and becoming more militaristic. Nietzsche was attacking Christianity and promoting a morality based on strength, for a special man who rose above the masses. In Britain some were questioning colonialism, and Kipling was defending it as “the white man’s burden.”
Apart from offending people’s sense of equity, this idea smacked of atheism, highly repellent to a world still quite religious. Reformist Protestants, while forming most of the new rich, didn’t like the idea of a formally hierarchical society. Catholics accepted a formally hierarchical society, but only if the people at the bottom had some guarantees. Bryan was a Presbyterian and an advocate of the Social Gospel. Reformist Protestants thought the solution to social problems was not to write off the lower classes but to improve them through Christian missionary activity.
The tension between the rapid social change, mass immigration, continuing industrialization and the resulting social inequality and chaos on one hand and the desire for a stable and relatively equal society on the other continued into the 20’s. While never being elected President, Bryan was an influential politician throughout that time. He put his support behind such reformist causes as income and inheritance taxes, women’s suffrage, and prohibition.
Bryan was a speaker on the Chautaqua circuit– a program of Protestant moral education– where he spoke against Darwinism, calling it “the law of hate”, and insisting that Americans must be governed by “the law of love.” He became even more concerned after World War I, believing German aggression was sparked by Social Darwinism and learning that many college students were abandoning their childhood religion while at school.
But just as Bryan was most concerned that evolutionary biology represented a threat to an ethos of equality, the elite was looking to science to overthrow traditional beliefs, which it was starting to find restricting to its desired lifestyle. Enter Clarence Darrow, exit the reputation of William Jennings Bryan.
The elite has embraced science more and more strongly over the decades, and recently even open atheism. It loves evolution, but with the specific exemption for the idea that some races might be overall more intelligent than others. It most certainly believes some people- themselves, selected by admission to elite universities- are superior to others, and entitled to rule over their inferiors- white people who believe in God.
By defending human neurological uniformity, Bryan was very much doing their work for them. Although some are more equal than others, people must be considered equal. All leftist societies are based on the idea of elite rule over an otherwise uniform population. HNU is an absolutely necessary part of all kinds of leftism, and Bryan fell on his sword for it. He should get a little more credit.