Sydney Kendall Says

Thinking in public about anything that matters.

Part 1: Analysis of “Society Consists of People”

I am finally going to start analyzing Mikko Ellila’s “Society Consists of People” bit by bit, to sort the issues as thoroughly as I can.

The issue of racism is one that is especially prone to make even reasonable and honest people knee-jerk. We all know racist ideas have lead torights violations, and even atrocities,in the past, and still do so in the present in various areas of the world. No people of humane spirit want to let such evils happen in their society.

But does this mean that we have to completely avoid even looking at apparent differences among races? Does observing and mentioning those differences amount to racism? Does it mean that there is an area of inquiry that we must avoid at all costs? And is anyone who fails to avoid it a racist?

To many among the politically correct – and perhaps many who do not usually fall into that category as well – the answer to all the above seems to be “yes”. But it is my conviction thatthere should be no area of inquiry that should be off-limits. Whatever is, IS. And we should take great care to find out whatis.

This must not be attempted hastily.Finding thetruth, whatever it is, requires careful, honest, unprejudiced seeking of facts – the full context of facts that pertains to grasping the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This cannot be achieved by knee-jerk, emotional reaction. It cannot be achieved by trying to avoid the knee-jerk, emotional reactions of others.

If you really care about truth and justice, you have to take the time and care to achieve the fullest grasp ofreality as you are able, and you also have to be willing to revise that grasp when you discover flaws in your former reasoning or when new facts throw former conclusions into question.

I intend to examine Mikko Ellila’s “Society Consists of People” with the rather ambitious intention of finding everything that’s in it. There’s a lot there that needs sorting, and I undoubtedly will only get to a fraction of it. But Mikko Ellila has been accused of racism, and in myopinion, racism is a subject that needs a thorough public sorting, precisely because so many people seem to deal with it with very thick and cushiony kid gloves, all emotional and hysterical and ready to cry “Racist” at the drop of a statistic.

Because this process of analysis is so ambitious itwill have to be done in installments. For those who have not been keeping up with this story, here is the link to The Prodos Blog, where you can follow the controversy from the beginning.

And now, I will begin.

The following is a translation by Aapo Puhakka, whichappears to haveMikko Ellila’s approval as accurate. Mikko has linked to the translation, and has not complained of inaccuracies, although he has posted on Prodos’s blog since the translation was put there. I therefore assume it is a good translation.

Here are the first few paragraphs of “Society Consists of People”:

Society Consists of People
By Mikko Elilla

In the discussion of immigration and multiculturalism many people seem to forget, that every society and culture is created and upheld by certain kind of people.

European culture and modern western society is created by white people.

One could see in Africa societies and cultures created by black people, if there were no railroads, airplanes, streets with asphalt, stone houses, electricity, telephone, television, etc.

People of Middle-East have created culture of desert-living tribes, that is so called islamic culture.

People of East-Asia, mostly Japanese and Chinese, created in their times an society, where standard of living and technical ability was centuries higher than in Europe.

Collectivistic, authoric way of thinking, typical for Asians, lead however to stagnation, because of which for example America and Africa were conquered by Europeans, not by Japanese or Chinese.

Rationalism and individualism is typical for European way of thinking and a necessary result of these is support of private property and free market-economy. For this reason industrial revolution happened in Europe and not in Asia.

Anybody feel uncomfortable with that so far? I certainly do. And yet I can’t say thatwhat Mikko has written isfalse in every way.

Paragraph 1 and 2:

In the discussion of immigration and multiculturalism many people seem to forget, that every society and culture is created and upheld by certain kind of people.

European culture and modern western society is created by white people.

Yes, every society and culture is created by a particular race, or a particular combination of races, usually with one particular race predominating. It can be no other way, because human beings come in races. There is no raceless human being. Even a person of mixed race is racial. Mixed racial. So “every society and culture is created and upheld by certain kind of people” – meaning a certain race or races of people – on the face of it, is true.

But then we have: “European culture and modern western society is created by white people.”

Again, largely true. Other races have made contributions, but when it comes to the philosophical underpinnings, it’s been pretty much laid out by white people. But the thing that makes me uncomfortable at this point is the suspicion that this is leading towards saying that it’s a group’s race – some biological, inborn aspect of nature – that determines what kind of customs, culture, laws, and morality a particular society comes up with.

But there are many aspects of reality that go into how a society develops, why it may shoot ahead in development, slow down, stop, or regress. Is Mikko going to acknowlege this? Let’s keep reading.

One could see in Africa societies and cultures created by black people, if there were no railroads, airplanes, streets with asphalt, stone houses, electricity, telephone, television, etc.

Again, it is true that African societieshave been created by black people. The vast majority of people in Africa are Negroes. (I use the term “Negro” because it is the correct anthropological term. There are other races who also have very dark skin, for example, certain groups in India, and who are sometimes referred to as black. But they are not African and they are not Negroes.)

It is also true that members of African societies did not invent railroads, airplanes, streets with asphalt, stone houses, electricity, telephone, television. These inventions were created by Europeans… well,I don’t know about stone houses being exclusivelya European invention. I literally mean that I don’t know. But certainly the modern house asfound in European societies, with its sophisticated structure,appliances and utilities – yes. Sure. These are European inventions. And where these things exist in Africa, it is because Europeans introduced them.

But there is an implication hovering in Mikko’s approach that suggests to me he’s saying it is race – biological, inborn,racial traits- that determines what that race can and does discover and invent. This, if it is where he is heading, would be racism.

There are other issues implicit here, arising in my mind, that should not be shunted aside and ignored: are theremental/emotional/personality traits that are affected by biology? Temperament, for example (aggressiveness, shyness,distractibility, etc.). Intelligence, such as the capacity for abstract thought? And if so, are certain inheritable traits- inherited by individuals, I must add – more common in some races than in others, or do they arise in a fairly similar mix throughout all races? Are there any such traits that are inherited by ALL members of a race? Are inherited traits capable of being modified by human experience and the distinctly human ability to learn to reason and to apply that skill, or are inherited traits immutable? That is, if there are such inherited traits at all?

And although black Africans lived a tribal life and did not develop modern technology or a a sophisticated, scientific edifice of knowledge on their own, is that because of inborn racial traits, or are there a whole raft of inputs that determine whether a people progresses in a technologicaland scientific direction or not? A raft that doesn’t have anything to do with race?

But those are just questions that arise in my mind at this point. I’m reading Mikko’s commentary to find out what he’s getting at, and all the implicit issues will have to wait until later.

People of Middle-East have created culture of desert-living tribes, that is so called islamic culture.

As most of the Middle-East is made of desert, the desert-living cannot be disputed. That it is tribal is – in regard to what Middle Easterners have created without outside influence – largely true, to my knowledge.And, since Mohammadthe Prophet’s time, the Middle East has been overwhelmingly Islamic, the Muslims having been keen tospread their religion both by persuasion and by the sword.

However, Judaism and Christianity also started in the Middle East, as well as a variety of lesser-known religions that haven’t gotten very far or have dwindled or disappeared. But let it not be forgotten that the primary religion of Europe – Christianity – has its roots in the Middle East. It wasn’t founded by Europeans, although Europeans took it and ran with it.

While most in the Middle East are Muslims, there are still Christians there as well, and some of those Christians are Arabs.

As far as I know, all of that is fact. (But I am always open to evidence to the contrary.)

People of East-Asia, mostly Japanese and Chinese, created in their times an society, where standard of living and technical ability was centuries higher than in Europe.

I don’t know whether it was centuries higher or not, but I do know that for a time, East Asians were far ahead of Europe in living standards and technical knowledge.

Collectivistic, authoric way of thinking, typical for Asians, lead however to stagnation, because of which for example America and Africa were conquered by Europeans, not by Japanese or Chinese.

It is true that Asian philosophy, culture, and historical traditionis, in general,far more collectivistic and submissive to authority than Western philosophy, culture, and historical tradition.

But China did have a long period of exploration and trade before a more conservative philosophy got the upper hand and China became isolationist.

The respect for reason, for facts, and a love of exploring and expanding one’s knowledge are necessary for continued development of knowledge and improvements in the general standard of living of a society. This is true. People who are forced to submit, or who willingly submit without question, to the dictates of an authority, will not discover, create, and improve their society’s lot very fast or very far.

But this is a matter of the kind of philosophy that becomes entrenched in a society, and informs the kind of laws and customs that guide the culture. It proves nothing about whether the tendencies of a people towards a particular philosophical view regarding authority, obedience, reason, and tradition are racially determined, or whether these attitudes develop for other reasons.

When Mikko says: “Collectivistic, authoric way of thinking, typical for Asians”, however, he does not necessarily mean it’s typical because of race. He may only mean that it is typical in Asian culture.

But I’ll tell you why I have the sense, so far, that he is going to say Asian collectivistic, authority-bound thinking is racially determined. It’s because of what he has and has NOT said so far.

He has said this:

In the discussion of immigration and multiculturalism many people seem to forget, that every society and culture is created and upheld by certain kind of people.

European culture and modern western society is created by white people.

One could see in Africa societies and cultures created by black people…

He could have said something like this:

In the discussion of immigration and multiculturalism many people seem to forget that every society has it’s own traditions and guiding principles or rules. Not all societies’ are compatible in these areas.

Some societies are individualistic. Some are collectivistic. Some societies are highly tribal, and demand that their individual membersshare out all they earn with everyone else in the tribe, while other societies hold that what the individual earns he has a right to keep, with no moral condemnation deserved.

Some societies respect freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They hold that each individual has the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and that every human being has a right to the equal protection of these rights under the law, whoever he is, so long as he (and I mean “he” in the non-gender way), respects the equal right of all other people to their lives, liberty, and property.

Some societies legally discriminate against people who do not submit to a particular religion, and even consider it moral to kill a person who becomes an apostate. Others would recognize such killings as murder.

Some societies have a strong tradition of putting all ideas to the test of reason and fact, of thinking and re-thinking, of challenging old ideas and new with rigorous reasoning, and rejecting superstition. Others do not have such a strong rational tradition, and superstition and ignorance are more common in those places than where a more stringent intellectual rigor prevails.

*********

The difference between this approach and the one that Mikko has taken is that this approach doesn’t imply that race is involved in the creation of these dramatic differences in social structure and ethical ideas. It doesn’t start listing to the side of racial determinism from the get-go. So one wonders why Mikko started out focussing on the fact that Western society was created by white people and African society was created by black people, unless he believes that race is the issue.

Finally:

Rationalism and individualism is typical for European way of thinking and a necessary result of these is support of private property and free market-economy. For this reason industrial revolution happened in Europe and not in Asia.

Eeeeeeeh… sure. Reason and individualism have been strong in the West and are responsible for Western rapid progress, whenever rapid progress was made.

But Westerners have also been capable of buying into some pretty horrific anti-individual, anti-rights, collectivistic philosophies and systems. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany are two recent and massively destructive examples of this.

Rational thought, respect for the scientific method, individual rights – including freedom of expression – and respect for the independent mind (part of individualism) are key to the Industrial Revolution having occurred in the West and not someplace else.

Authoritarianism is not a good nurturer of creativity. Mysticism doesn’t help discover the actual causes and effects in nature. The encouragement of independent, free-thinking, rational minds is always going to get you more advancement than mystical taboos, top-down control and bottom-up obedience.

But note that Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini, and Stalin were all white people. And history is full of prominent white people who were not individualists, and were not particularly rational, either.

So far, there are some important points with which I agree in Mikko Ellila’s “Society Consists of People”. But his general approach does seem to be heading in a racially problematic direction. And his brush seems a tad broad.

More later.

“Society Consists of People” – by Mikko Ellila – Original Finnish

“Society Consists of People” – English translation by Aapo Puhakka

Report This Post

3 Comments

  1. I am working at making clear exactly what Mikkos said. Hopefully he will come to my site and help me clarify things. I have improved on some of the spelling and word order in the translation. I consider these mistakes to be due to the difficulty of translation.
    There are many true statements in his post. There are many mistakes too. I do not judge his conclusions because I don’t believe that they are set in stone. I think that some of the material he has found is misleading and some is plainly fraudulent.
    Using this information uncritically could make many people come to the same conclusion as Mikko. Fixing the information should change the conclusions people come to based on it.

    http://reasonrules.thinkertothinker.com/bloging/

    Report This Comment

  2. Walter Haxton said: I do not judge his conclusions because I don’t believe that they are set in stone. I think that some of the material he has found is misleading and some is plainly fraudulent.

    Using this information uncritically could make many people come to the same conclusion as Mikko. Fixing the information should change the conclusions people come to based on it.

    Sydney Kendall says: The beauty of blogs and comments sections is that, if participants are intent on uncovering “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” (one of my favorite phrases), then people who have been misunderstood have an ongoing opportunity to set things straight.

    While I am interested in working out where Mikko is coming from, and getting a handle on who he is, I am even more interested in dealing with the content of his article and sorting the issues in public.

    If Mikko is an honest mind who has been mislead by fraudulent and/or shoddy material, hopefully – when the ThinkerToThinker universe gets done with analyzing “Society Consists of People” – he will have been put on the track of better thinkers and researchers than those he has been reading, and he’ll change his views.

    I’m not out to tear Mikko down. I only want to sort his blog post out. I’ll certainly come to your blog to read your effort at clarification.

    All the best,
    Sydney

    Report This Comment

  3. Ellilä says all rigth with a minor exeption: I woud say nothing about races but cultures . My opinion is: cultures are not equal. You may yourself consider what that means.

    Report This Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2017 Sydney Kendall Says

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Report This Blog