Democracy Under Assault
Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

Michele Swenson

Resurrected 19th Century 'Science' of Biodeterminism

Dredging up discredited nineteenth century "science" of biologically determined gender and race-based "inferiority" that equates poverty with moral failure, right-wing think tanks have advanced a politics of race and class, evident in such works as Richard Hernstein’s and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1996). The book posits the futility of environmental intervention and social programs in the face of inferior genetically/racially determined intelligence. Murray elaborated on his theme of biologic determinism as primary factor of inequality in Income Inequality and IQ. Proclaiming the intractability of IQ as cause of poverty, Murray argues "the reality of human inequality, which neither equalization of opportunity nor a freer market will circumvent." Declaring America tired of dealing with its "underclass," Murray opposes welfare programs that "reward antisocial, irresponsible behavior," such as out-of-wedlock childbirth. Beyond social and economic sanctions of women, Murray has advocated elimination of AFDC, food stamps and subsidized housing, and the abolishment of assistance for the disabled or the "mothers of the disabled."

The Pioneer Fund has underwritten the works of Murray and others who base anti-welfare arguments on alleged racial intelligence in order to discourage birth among "low-IQ" women; to rewrite immigration laws in favor of "the capable"; and to roll back job discrimination laws. Welfare, reduced infant mortality, a minimum wage and eight-hour work days only enable the unfit to survive, thus weakening society. Elaborating on these themes, 1994 Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen Quist maintained that men have a "genetic predisposition" to be heads of households and women are "genetically disposed" to a lesser status than men.