Humans are remarkably good at coordinating when everyone’s interests align. Every day there is heavy traffic on the roads because no one gains from crashing. Tens of thousands die every year but in that same time hundreds of millions drive trillions of times. Thus, the incentives for driving to work year after year are correctly aligned.
Markets find a price to a fraction of a cent because an equilibrium between competing interests is arrived at.
But government, politics, sexual and status competition involve a zero sum battle between interests that never ends. This disputed territory is the slice of life that most human energy is devoted to.
When I go on message boards, the most common comment I see is some variety of “OMG people are stupid.” People are not so much directly stupid as they are personally self-interested. The core difference between high and low IQ countries is whether the average person can ask themselves. “What if everyone did it?”
IQ as far as I can tell is a way to get a rough idea of someone’s ability to handle abstraction, and that, as it turns out, is decisive.
Let’s imagine for a moment we’re typically corrupt third world traffic cops. We’re just using a position of power to maximize our leverage in a cutthroat society where a few winners take all. If you don’t take as many bribes as you can, someone else gets ahead of you.
Even if you have 150 IQ in an 85 average IQ society, it doesn’t matter much, because you know that even if you choose not to take bribes, no one around you will follow suit. So even though there are some very intelligent outliers, they are drowned out in the larger culture and its institutions. Some of the smart ones may rise to the top, but they are smart enough to understand minimally abstract crowds require immediate threat of force to keep them in line. Given more than just enough to eat, they breed without abandon until the whole society collapses. So if you are one of the smartest guys in power in a benighted African “republic” why not be a ruthless kleptocrat?
When everyone is maximally self-interested, a single dollar beyond subsistence in another man’s pocket is just a weapon he will one day use against you. If all these countries end up with kleptocrat strongmen, regardless of the nominal form of government, then we must conclude it’s no accident and that’s what the incentives select for.
Third world people are highly effective and rational when it comes to survival. But when everyone is like that, it’s like a Chinese finger trap. The harder you pull away in the direction of societal-level defection and competition the tighter and more inescapable it becomes. Until you have enough people of sufficient intelligence, no one figures out that if you forgo total competition, humans can reach a negotiated truce that allows for higher trust and a superior standard of living for everyone.
Those who cooperate by paying for goods, get more and better stores to choose from. Those who defect by stealing whenever they can are rewarded with “food deserts.” What few stores remain in these districts lock up anything that’s small enough to conceal and worth more than $10.
Whenever I go to the liquor store, single malt scotch is out in the open up to about $100 a bottle. Meanwhile, even lower shelf brandy, especially the Hennessy gets kept behind the cash register where sticky fingers can’t reach it. It is easy to tell which community prefers which.
It plays out the same way in every aspect of life that lies in that disputed sector. For populations of smart people, the contested area is just a bit smaller and that makes a huge difference.
Because lower IQ people are more or less rational. It is easy to have casual conversations with them and not think them especially lacking. This is why people who disparage their capabilities in any way seem like “racists” and why “oppression” seems at first like the best explanation for their consistently poor fortunes. Their deficiency manifests most greatly not on an individual but a group level. The scions of the Enlightenment ultimately abolished the group and therefore regard the study of the interaction of collectives in aggregate as a mortal sin. This neglected and most important of the social sciences, which all advertising and electoral politics are steeped in, is an open opportunity for dissidents of all stripes.