Friday, January 25, 2019

Project Jacob

In the financial world, it is a reliable rule of thumb that the largest and most lucrative forms of arbitrage will be those that don't strike the average investor as being an arbitrage. If they did, they'd have been traded away already. So how would they be seen by the average person? Probably as just weird. The kind of thing that nobody thinks about very much, because it's too obscure. If they do turn their mind to it, they assume there must be some big reason that nobody else is doing this, even if they can't quite articulate what it might be.

So it is, I suspect, with society more broadly.

So with this in mind, before I get to the punch line, I want to start with a few assumptions, and see where we end up. If these sound like things you already know and agree with, please bear with me and keep reading – this is exactly the point. My aim is to show what possibilities flow from things we mostly agree on, because the conclusion might strike you as rather surprising if I started with it.

1. Genes matter a lot for individual traits, and individual traits define the society to a large degree

The first of Turkheimer's laws of behavioral genetics is that nearly everything is heritable to a significant degree. Overall political ideology has a significant genetic component – approaching 60%, by some estimates. The impact of WEIRDO political culture and the Hajnal line are just some of the many indications to this effect. A society is determined to a considerable degree by the distribution of who is living there. If reactionaries have more children, on average the future looks more reactionary.

2. Parenting, like all shared environment terms, matters much less than people think.

This is kind of a mish-mash of Turkheimer's second and third laws. Related to #1, people tend to significantly overestimate the effect of environment on outcomes, because they fail to control for genetics. I suspect that most readers of this august periodical are conversant in the findings of HBD, and one set of the most important is the twin studies. The general finding of most of them is that genetics matter a lot, and idiosyncratic environment matters a lot, but shared environment doesn’t matter very much for adult behavior. Once children can select their own environment upon reaching adulthood, the impact of shared environment drops a lot, often to almost zero. The environment that does matter is mostly idiosyncratic, which, frankly, we don’t really know what it is. Some combination of school peers, parasites, measurement error, etc. But most of what’s included in parenting is shared environment (school district, general attitude of parents), or gene-environment interactions. What matters most is who your parents are. How they parent seems to matter less than nearly everybody thinks. In most contexts, reactionaries are willing to embrace this idea.

3. Having more children is valuable, but very difficult to scale within the context of marriage

The injunction we are often told on the right is to marry and have children, as a means of propagating ourselves and our values. This is a very worthy enterprise, but one that is almost impossible to scale at an individual level. Unless your wife is young, there is a hard limit on how many children you can have. Unless you’re young yourself, finding a wife young enough to have many children is likely to be hard. Finding one willing and eager to do so is harder still. All of this is magnified if one lives in cities, where the cost of having many children is much higher. Bottom line – having more children yourself is important, but the impact that each of us can have in this respect is likely to be a drop in the ocean. The problem is simply one of scale. You and I could try to convince everyone in the west to have more kids, and that’s definitely worthwhile. But if we could convince everyone of whatever we wanted, we’d already be able to solve lots of problems. The issue is that convincing the populace of anything when one lacks power is very hard.

4. Even outside the context of marriage, having lots of children with lots of women is financially impossible for anyone with means, and generally promotes degeneracy.

The Bronze Age Pervert mindset, frequently joked about, is to take a group of elite Chads and send them out to impregnate thousands of hot teens. The problem, of course, is that if you do this, you end up with endless single mums and degeneracy, because you can’t marry more than one of the women you are impregnating. To make matters worse, the modern court system with ruinous child support makes this strategy catastrophically costly to anyone with any financial prospects whatsoever. The only people who can afford this strategy are those who are, as the lawyers say, “judgment proof” – they live on welfare and crime, so can’t be held to account for any child support payments, which makes them much more willing to impregnate lots of women. Because everything is heritable (see point 1), we end up with a significant expansion of the worst traits of criminality, low impulse control, and violent tendencies. This is dysgenics exemplified.

5. Subverting valuable but unguarded institutions is an important aim.

One of the genius moves of the left during the 20th century was to find resources that were important, but relatively unguarded, and take them over. Academia or the media, for instance. These were always decent jobs, but weren’t perceived as being quite as influential in the past as they later became. Fighting over things which everyone knows are important (e.g. Supreme Court nominations) is extraordinarily difficult. Subverting and taking over institutions which are important, but not yet realized to be important, is a much more promising strategy.

So far, so good.

So based on the above, the question is: as reactionaries, if we want to increase the number of children we have so as to propagate reactionary ideals, is there any way to do it that doesn’t involve getting crushed by the court system or increasing the amount of degeneracy in society? Is there an institution that we can subvert that will help us achieve this aim?

The answer is yes.

And the answer is shockingly simple.

Go to a sperm bank, and donate.

In evolutionary sperms, the unpopularity of sperm donation is simply mind-boggling. It is a colossal unguarded resource – the wombs of thousands of women, openly seeking to bear your children while you are legally shielded from any costs whatsoever of raising them. If humans were fitness maximizers, men should all be beating down the doors of these places to fight each other off. But we aren’t. We’re adaption executors instead, spending all our resources and energy into banging women (which evolutionarily would have produced lots of children) while simultaneously trying not to actually get those same women pregnant. Meanwhile sperm banks are just considered weird. The main people who go are idiot college students not really thinking about the consequences and just treating it like it’s an easy source of beer money. If reactionaries started going there en masse, we’d probably be a large component of the potential pool.

And it goes without saying that this project is enormously scalable. As the marketing goes, you can make a difference in the life of a family! What they don’t say, because it weirds people out, is that you’ll probably make a difference in the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of families. This becomes an enormous force multiplier to any group with small numbers.

Not only that, but this project is compatible even with a world view that thinks single motherhood is undesirable. The effect is not to increase the number of single mums in the world. Anyone going to the sperm bank has already made up their mind to have a child, whether it's a good idea or not. Unless the sperm banks get shut down, the change is entirely one in composition, not in number. The only question is whose children these women will be having, and what traits will these children have. Since everything is heritable (see law 1!), it's better if the children have reactionary fathers, than soy-boy loser fathers.

Moreover, this can be done alongside a traditional lifestyle oneself. Donate while young and single, or if your wife/girlfriend is okay with it. Doing it while single is probably easier – future wives may be uncomfortable with the idea, but if it is presented as a fait accompli, they’ll probably find a way to make peace with it, especially because it likely doesn’t impact very much in one’s day-to-day life. Then after that, get married and have your own children with your wife and raise them yourself, just as you were planning to before. Most young men masturbate for free. Instead, they could get paid to impregnate hundreds of women with almost no negative consequences to themselves. And yet almost nobody does. Go figure.

There are, however, at least two caveats worth mentioning (and probably more – these are the ones that came to my mind). First, in the age of genetic testing, it is increasingly unlikely that you will be able to maintain true anonymity to your donor children or their parents forever. Some places actually put any recipient adult in touch (anonymously) if they want to. Truthfully, this is probably better, as it’s preferable to have people email you than turn up at your office. There’s too many ways to track people down, from genetic tests to compiling scraps of information into endless google searches. If you go down this path, it’s worth trying to preserve anonymity with sensible steps (turn your 23andme to private, obviously). But you should assume that you may get some contact from the recipient mothers or their children, at least to some extent. Probably not a lot, and probably not most of them. But it’s worth assuming the worst. If this prospect is too uncomfortable to you, then it may not be a good idea. To me, the idea doesn’t seem that troubling, once I actually thought about it. Still, your mileage may vary.

Second, I imagine that some of you (maybe most of you, maybe all of you) will have ethical issues with the idea of having children that one doesn’t have contact with. This is a totally fair viewpoint. If one feels this way, particularly from a religious basis, then definitely don’t do it. But if one is less troubled by this aspect, then perhaps it’s not an insurmountable objection. There is certainly a strong qualified defense of the idea in the pragmatic angle – even if sperm banks should be shut down altogether as an abomination, in the world we live in, they’re not going to be. The main change we make is at the margin of what kind of children result. You might be tempted to wonder if your children will turn out badly because they won't have you there to raise them. But remember point 2! Parenting doesn't matter that much. Genetics do. Still, if one feels strongly that there is an ethical objection to the whole enterprise, then one might feel that this would be lending some kind of implicit support to it. Again, I don’t tend to feel as strongly on this point, but I imagine some of you probably will.

If you're thinking that this whole idea sounds really weird, it struck me as weird too when I first considered it, but it grew on me more and more as I thought about it. And the more it went on, it began to seem like it actually meets a large number of reactionary goals. The fact that it seems weird is exactly why it’s unguarded. Paul Graham once wrote a great essay about this in the context of startups. He said that the best startup ideas were the ones that sound bad, but were actually good. You don’t want the ones that sound good and are good – everyone is trying to do those ones, so you’ll have stacks of competition. But the ones that sound weird at first (turn your car into a gypsy cab! Let strangers stay in your house when you’re not there) but are actually really good are the absolute best prospects of all. I think this has the potential to be one of those. In the scheme of the trichotomy, this is much more techno-futurism than traditionalism – in family terms, it’s more neocameralism and less throne and altar. So be it. I think the ability to recognize these possibilities is one of the big advantages of neoreactionaries over paleoreactionaries.

More importantly, this might be the golden age in which to undertake this project. In another 5 or 10 years, we might get to the point where recipients get to select traits based on the full genome of the donor. To the extent that single women seeking donor sperm likely skew progressive, if they understood HBD, they might screen us out themselves. Right now, they can’t.

Even turning up for the initial tests is valuable – if it turns out your sperm count or motility is low and you can’t donate, this is almost certainly knowledge that you’d like to have so you can start trying to have children sooner.

I'm open to being convinced that I'm wrong on this. But so far, it makes a disturbing amount of sense to me.