BRAIN DRAIN

Thomas Russell Wingate
October–November 2010



1


To emigrate is to leave one’s country of origin.

To immigrate is to enter another country.

He emigrated from Poland.
He is a Polish immigrant.


Exiles are driven, often under threat of death, from their countries of origin to someplace else. Emigrants need not be exiles, and most are not. Emigrants are likely to seek a better life in their new country than they would have had without leaving.

These facts (and words) are often confused.

2


The Statue of Liberty (1886) is emblematic of the American people and their republic. When built, it was the largest statue in the world outside the Far East. The Washington Monument (1884) was the tallest manmade structure in all the world, surpassing for the first time the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Americans were very sure of themselves.

The Roman goddess Libertas holds a torch aloft in her right hand. Her left hand holds a table of law inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence. Her left ankle wears a broken chain.

“Liberty Enlightening the World” (Liberté éclairant le monde) is a centennial gift from the people of France. She has graced New York longer than the Eiffel Tower has graced Paris.

To people now living, the Goddess of Liberty has become the Goddess of Immigration. This intellectual corruption was accomplished by confusing emigrants with exiles.

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (1883)—a sonnet in the style of Milton, the greatest proponent of liberty in our language—was affixed to the pedestal in 1903. Anyone who doubts the power of poetry should study this ode—to its tendons.

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is compared unfavorably to “Mother of Exiles”—a name used by no one else, ever.

The poem does not contain the word “liberty.” It nowhere mentions the Deity or any American document—indeed, not even the name of our country or France, the donor country, or Rome, the model for the two later republics. These are “ancient lands” whose “storied pomp” is not worth having.

The poet’s unstated attention was on Jews being despoiled and expelled by Russia. “The wretched refuse” are “the huddled masses” aboard ship “yearning to breathe free” on dry land; they are “the tired, the poor… the homeless.” Now they are coming to the land which exiles none.

The “mighty woman with a torch” was well known to Americans. She (or her head) could be seen on U.S. coins, most notably and beautifully the gold double eagle ($20) designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens around 1905. (She has come to be replaced by presidents. Gold and silver are also gone from U.S. coins. These facts are connected.)

The last line refers to a “golden door” but gives no account of how such a thing came to be. The poem is about the statue—its size, electric light, location—but not about its raison d’être. “Any port in a storm” almost sums up the poem. It belongs on a Statue of Safety or a Statue of Welcome.

Liberty is to enlighten the world, not to absorb the world.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States does not overlap with this ode.

Contrast its lines to the lyrics of “America the Beautiful,” written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates.

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than selves their country loved
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And ev’ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.


The Lazarus poem should be removed from the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. If anything literary is to replace it, let it be the Bates poem—which, by the way, would make a better national anthem for the United States.

3


Harvard1636Massachusetts
William & Mary1693Virginia
Yale1701Connecticut
Pennsylvania1740Pennsylvania
Princeton1746New Jersey
Columbia1754New York
Brown1764Rhode Island
Rutgers1766New Jersey
Dartmouth1769New Hampshire
 

Northeast: 8
South: 1


Before independence, the English-speaking colonists made themselves proportionately the most highly educated population on the planet.

Please pause to let that sink in.

4


The American Republic—novus ordo seclorum—is the product of emigration and brain drain.¹

To judge by results, the American Revolution was a replay of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. An earlier English revolution resulted in military rule, the restoration of the Stuart kings, and voluntary transoceanic relocation of many of Albion’s talented seed.

France had far less good fortune than America. Her people went from king to republic to terror to dictatorship to emperor to catastrophic wars to king to republic to emperor again to military defeat…

In large part, this was because more Americans were soberly educated. Their Protestant faith and culture demanded it of them and they were accustomed to protecting themselves, expressing themselves, trusting themselves, and governing themselves.

Americans have unwisely come to suppose that the abilities of ordinary people who crossed the Atlantic created the abundance that we have all come to depend upon.

Rubbish. Most of the earliest settlers went hungry, yea even unto death, and more than a few went back to England. The Pilgrim Fathers found out for themselves just how splendidly applied communism works.

What is the rest of the story?

The capable minority took what opportunities presented themselves, and created openings for themselves and others that would not have been possible in constrictive societies.

5


Constrictive societies are the oldest kind.²

Twenty-five centuries ago Heraclitus explained a lot about brain drain.

As for the Ephesians [his countrymen], I would have them, youths, elders, and all those between, go hang themselves, leaving the city in the abler hands of children. With banishment of Hermodoros they say, No man should be worthier than average. Thus, my fellow citizens declare, whoever would seek excellence can find it elsewhere among others.


Today as always, far more societies are constrictive than not. What is unusual here—as Americans say, exceptional—is that freedom has been taken to heart and that durable institutions understood at gut level by enough good men and women protect it.

6


The particulars of the human condition may be explained as situational or intrinsic.

One may hold that slums have plenty of crime because poverty produces bad behavior. This explanation is situational. The conclusion is usually drawn that, once the surroundings have been changed for the better, the behavior will change for the better.

One may hold that slums have plenty of crime because bad behavior produces poverty and rotten character produces bad behavior. This explanation is intrinsic. The conclusion is usually drawn that moral reform, if successful, will result in better behavior and that better behavior, if sustained, will result in comparative prosperity as a side effect.

7


“As above, so below.” This was always the basic premise of astrology.

Astrology has bedecked itself with vocabulary and numbers galore.

Please note that situational explanations rest on the premise “as outside, so within.”

Those fond of situational explanations bedazzle themselves and their spectators with verbiage and statistics.

In the philosophy called pragmatism, what the best of us agree on is the truth because agreement supersedes examination and self-examination.

Recent scandals with respect to “anthropogenic global warming” demonstrate to the attentive that much of “climate science” is posturing without the detachment science claims for its halo.

We need not suppose that “social sciences” are different. If what they are telling us is true, what do they need all that jargon for? And why do they suppose that we wouldn’t know anything if they didn’t tell it to us? Plants don’t know anything about botany but we all know plenty about being human.

8


Intrinsic explanations—study, for example, the Bible’s Proverbs—suppose that people with varying degrees of rectitude and competence create and ruin societies. Much attention must be paid to the inculcation of virtue and the deprecation of vice. No proposed social order which disregards human destructive drives deserves serious investment.

9


One style of thinking says that agreement is always possible and should therefore be sought.

Another says that ruin is always possible and should therefore be detected from afar and avoided.

10


“Brain drain” differs from ordinary emigration in that those upon whom a society depends most abandon it first. Wikipedia states that there are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia.

This is a “brain gain” for Chicago. If Ethiopian doctors end up driving taxis in Chicago, that is a “brain waste” for everyone but a clear gain for the doctors, their families, and their passengers.

Many would rather have humble employment in freedom and safety than important but precarious positions in chaos and tyranny.

Ethiopia loses, but there are long-standing Ethiopian reasons why Ethiopia loses.

11


Genetic information is disturbing to those who have made it their mission to “release” human potential from “artificial” impediments.

Since they take everything to be situational, scientific or intuitive dissent from their mission can only be part of the situation—shameful and harmful, worthy of the strictest and most unrelenting condemnation.

12


Believers in situational explanations emphasize the importance of “education,” by which they mean schooling by such as themselves.

Believers in situational explanations have driven away awareness of intrinsic explanations.

Their contumely has led them into what Herman Kahn piercingly called “educated incapacity.”

13


The Industrial Revolution need not have begun in northwestern Europe. China certainly had the brainpower. What China did not have was a tradition of ordered liberty.

Chinese emperors rewarded their most intelligent male subjects with government employment. Difficult examinations overstressing ancestral writings and ignoring experimental science were used to winnow those seeking to better their lot. It was not a caste system but it was a guild system. Everyone was encouraged to play it safe.

Something not altogether dissimilar has been brought into being in the United States in my lifetime. No one has any “right” to be surprised that the results are about the same.

14


The American “public” educational system has been perpetrating dysfunction and dependency for generations now. Almost no one knows how to think straight. “Brain rein” and “enstupidation” are terms that cry out to be used often.

We would do well to take John Stuart Mill’s observation and warning to heart:

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendencies to one over the body.³


Before you persist in believing that without state-operated schools there would be no schools and ignorance would reign, ask yourself who taught you to believe that.

Do we have a shortage of shoes? Does the government run shoe factories and shoe stores? Did your teachers ever mention Frédéric Bastiat?

15


Around the world multitudes and the calculating are swayed by an emotion they will never fully articulate:

YANKEE GO HOME!

(and take me with you!)


16


Henry Steele Commager said it best: “Nothing in all history had ever succeeded like America, and every American knew it.”

Does anyone not know that the direction of emigration is to countries which cherish liberty and enterprise, not to those which abhor them? How many Iranians wish they could live in America? How many Americans wish they could live in Iran?

Is it some fault of Americans that the American way of doing things runs against the grain of constrictive societies? Have those societies some right to exist unrattled forever because they, or their ruling elements, would have it so?

Are we to marvel that constrictive societies favor enstupidated populations? When “educators” are enstupidators, is “education” quite the right word?

“Dumbing down” is already idiomatic. Should we not be “smarting up”?

Let it not be far from your mind that nearly all societies in nearly all centuries have tried to strangle Libertas in her cradle. (Ask Liu Xiaobo.)




NOTES



1 See Wikipedia. The entry is lengthy and informative
   but written in the wordsmog of the social sciences.
2 The most important book here is The Open Society and
   Its Enemies
by Karl Popper (1945). See also The Future
   and Its Enemies
by Virginia Postrel (1998). Add in Human
   Accomplishment
by Charles Murray (2003). Wikipedia
   treats these books.
3 On Liberty, Chapter 5 (1859).

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