Monday, 14 September 2009

In praise of dead white males

In a 2003 book that has no doubt found itself on Harman's banned list, Charles Murray (yes, he of the Underclass) painstakingly analysed global accomplishment and found that mankind's advance so far has overwhelmingly been at the hands of dead white males.
Evidence scattered from Angkor Wat to Machu Picchu attests to the ability of human beings throughout the globe, not confined to the leading civilizations, to achieve amazing technological feats. And yet, and yet….Modern Europe has overwhelmingly dominated accomplishment in both the arts and sciences. The estimates of the European contribution are robust. They cannot, in any way I have been able to devise, be attenuated more than fractionally. As I write, it appears that Europe’s run is over. In another few hundred years, books will probably be exploring the reasons why some completely different part of the world became the locus of great human accomplishment. Now is a good time to stand back in admiration. What the human species is today owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass. Not only does Europe dominate the narrative of human accomplishment, so does the minority that has become known in recent years as dead white males.
Read a comprehensive precis (and some of the lists) HERE

1 comment:

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Very interesting, Raedwald. Far from the central point of controversy, Murray's hurry upset me more with his top ranking of the awful Picasso, whose work I cannot abide.

The universe may be wider than our views of it but more sympathy rests with a self evident nature and more thanks are owed to satirists like Williamson.