Marc Faber doesn’t get it: Great ideas have no skin colour - Macleans.ca
 

Marc Faber doesn’t get it: Great ideas have no skin colour

Opinion: Faber’s correlation of capitalist development with skin colour is undermined not just with conceptual arguments, but also by a simple look around the world today.


 
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 15: Swiss investor Marc Faber speaks during an exclusive interview after he attended capital market conference in Istanbul, Turkey on October 15, 2015. (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – OCTOBER 15: Swiss investor Marc Faber speaks during an exclusive interview after he attended capital market conference in Istanbul, Turkey on October 15, 2015. (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

There is no shortage of people who trash Western civilization and the ideas associated with it. From sensitive millennials who see the history of Great Britain and Europe and their offshoots as mainly racist, sexist, and imperialist, to politicians in chronic apology mode for the actions of others a century or more ago, too many people see the history of the West in Manichean terms. The emphasis often seems to be on the sins of Western civilization, and rarely if ever, its virtues and accomplishments.

The rich tradition of Western ideas that led to the modern world, its manifold freedoms and its blessed prosperity, needs a few good defenders. But here’s the kind of advocate Western civilization doesn’t need: Someone who equates laudable ideas and institutions birthed or popularized in the West with skin colour, i.e., “white.”

Enter Marc Faber, a Swiss investor and publisher of a popular financial newsletter. In it, he recently thanked God that “white people populated America and not the blacks.” He gave the failed economic state of Zimbabwe as an ostensible proof of failure due a skin colour different than his own. In a later interview with the Globe and Mail, Faber explained and reinforced his comments, saying he had no regret for “stating historic facts.” He argued the ostensible superiority of whites was clear “from the perspective of economic progress and development.”

READ: We should celebrate Canada’s British influence, not denounce it

I’d never heard of Faber until this week. I don’t know if he is a racist deep down or just clueless and unable to separate incidental, accidental facts of history from correlation-causation relationships. His follow-up remarks seem to indicate both.

White pride is as dumb as the reverse claim

Thinking clearly about Faber’s remarks matters, in part because some make the same assumption in reverse: that certain historic injustices  and wrong actions in European  or English countries are tethered to “whites” or the West  in general.

This is ridiculous. It also misunderstands that one key accomplishment in Western societies over the centuries was to move away from unity in a society based on racial, religious or ethnic tribes, and towards societies that unite around (hopefully) positive ideas.

The United States is a good example: While racist in practice in 1776, as with the rest of the world, its founding precept in the Declaration of Independence—all men are created equal—was an idea with unalterable logic. It drove ahead arguments for successive waves of emancipation: Blacks, women, and Asian Americans among others. This much should be obvious: Ideas, harmful or helpful, can be shared by anyone regardless of their colour.

Let’s dig into more of the correlation-causation error in Faber’s brain via another example: English whites wrote up the Magna Carta in 1215, and thus highlighted the importance of property rights. It was a necessary element, among others, to the widespread development centuries later of flourishing free markets in the British Isles and Europe, and then increasing around the world in the last 70 years. But eight centuries ago, those who ensured King John was henceforth subject to the rule of law on matters of property and other rights could have been black, mixed complexion, or purple with orange polka dots. What mattered was the idea, one which could be shared by anyone—and later was, by others around the world.

READ: Under the influence: 800 years of the Magna Carta

The same is true for other notions that developed and put down deep roots in Western societies over centuries. Adam Smith on a fuller understanding of why free markets are critical, and the importance of moral sentiments; Voltaire on intellectual freedom; John Stuart Mill on liberty; or Mary Wollstonecraft on why women should be emancipated. That each person had white skin was an accident of geography. It had nothing to do with their intellectual development, or that of the society around them.

Sure, civilizations matter; skin colour doesn’t

To be clear, harmful or helpful ideas did develop in specific circumstances in differing civilizations over time. Ponder Martin Luther’s notion that his own conscience, informed by his faith’s holy text, were definitive and not the established Church or state. “I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils” he remarked in 1521 at the Diet of Worms.  That belief and act of defiance set the stage for church-state separation. That, along with later influences such as the Enlightenment helped give rise to an initially unique Western understanding of the individual as worthy of treatment as an individual and not merely as a cog in some religious or ethnic collective. But such Western developments had nothing to do with skin colour but in ideals, ideas and arguments that exist in our grey matter. Contra Faber, it had nothing to do with pigmentation.

Faber’s correlation of capitalist development with whites is undermined not just with conceptual arguments, which, I would have thought, were obvious to all, but also by a simple look around the world today. Unsuccessful societies where the liberating effect of free enterprise is hampered—recall his comments about Zimbabwe—include plenty of white examples: Russia’s autocracy, Latin American corruption in general and renewed Cuban-style state interventionism in Venezuela. Those are all places where whites are either in the majority or close to it.

On the other, free side: Hong Kong, or even Singapore, which while autocratic on some matters, is still as good a practitioner of open markets and flourishing wealth creation as exists. Both Hong Kong and Singapore are, of course, majority Chinese in ethnicity; that implies something other than pale skin.  Their attachment to free enterprise and the principles and policies that undergird modern capitalism developed not due to colour but because ideas travel between peoples and between neurons.

READ: What tax grab politicians in Canada could learn from Hong Kong

Faber is not just an accidental or purposeful racist; he’s daft. Ideas on the inside of us, harmful or helpful, have nothing to do with the pigmentation on the outside.

 

Mark Milke is an author, columnist and president of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary


 
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Marc Faber doesn’t get it: Great ideas have no skin colour

  1. Faber never studied history, or he’d know most of ‘our’ ideas were pilfered from elsewhere…….notably China, India and Arabia.

  2. Mark, contrary to your assertions that any color of skin would do for the colonization of America and your specious argument that because there are examples around the world where the train came off the rails like Venezuela, Russia, Latin America etc., that that is a repudiation of the facts is preposterous. Firstly, the Magna Carta is generally considered to be one of the seminal documents in the history of common man attempting to throw off the yoke of their oppressive rulers, allowing for the ownership of private property and separating Church and State. The concept of the Magna Carta is deeply entrenched in the United States Federal and State governments and stands psychologically, as the main bulwark against the evermore intrusive assaults by the NWO/Liberal Left on the Democratic Republic. Unlike Canada which had a card carrying Communist in Pierre Trudeau champion a Constitution without private property at its core, the US Constitution and subsequent Bill of Rights amendments, enshrine the precepts of Magna Carta and provide the foil against tyranny. Where else in this world has such a concept held sway for almost a thousand years? What other race of people developed such a groundbreaking, innovative, influential “Rule of Law”? The Chinese, The Germans, The French, The Japanese, any country in Africa?????

    Secondly, to your “Hey Faber’s wrong because Russia, Latin America, Venezuela and let’s throw in countries like Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Scandinavian countries, etc. all took a sharp turn left and their economies turned to porridge”, is NOT a renouncement of the fact that Caucasian influence was not only prevalent in the development of the Americas, it was essential! Faber is simply stating historic fact and as a responsible left wing flag bearer, you attack him as a racist xenophobe by conveniently (as do ALL Lefties) completely ignoring reality and the facts supporting that reality. Faber did not denigrate Black people by saying that White people did a better job than Blacks would have done, he stated what even the most perfunctory of examinations of the results of Black ruled countries in Africa produces. The lovely Bobby Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the deterioration of South Africa into an shadow of its previous economic vitality under Black rule are just a couple of painful examples of the reality that Faber alludes to. No one needs to be a rocket scientist to make these observations and the list of failed states in Africa is endless.

    Of the 39,900,000 Blacks currently living in the US, 26,884,000 or 67.4% are on some form of Social Assistance. Although the population of Blacks represents only 12.6% of the US population, they represent 39.6% of all welfare recipients. Conversely, there are 11,405,000, or about 4.9% of Whites on Welfare. This means that per capita there are 13.7 times as many Blacks on welfare as Whites and although there are 8.67 times as many Whites as Blacks in raw numbers, there are 15,500,000 more Blacks receiving Social Assistance than Whites. That is about as Black and White as it gets for evidence of Faber’s lack of racism and his ability to observe and make reasoned assessments of obvious facts.

    PS: Please, to those so inclined, try not to pander to the old the blacks are on welfare because the Man is holding them down, routine. Fully one third of American Blacks get out of bed and go to work and get by without a welfare cheque from Uncle Sam, the others could as well but for their lack of internal motivation.

    “Welfare Statistics: US Department of Commerce from http://www.statisticbrain.com

    • The Magna Carta said nothing like that….and had not the slightest interest in the ‘common man’

      Constitutions, Charters, and all manner of Code have existed all over the world and for thousands of years.

      So don’t pat yourself on the back too hard…..you are still just a racist.

      • Actually Em, I’m not a Racist, I’m an observationalist.

      • When you miinterpret what you observe…..you are a racist

  3. Colonialism is a pernicious beast that even invades this author’s thinking. First, Eurocentric thinking prevents any mention of historical racism other than the obvious (to North Americans) white versus non-white aggression. The author mentions the Magna Carta ignoring that a) this only guaranteed the protection of law to the aristocracy, b) despite that, there were many subsequent excesses of royal power, c) England became an egregious colonial state and d) to this day, England has a society divided by class, race and religion exemplified by the underlying causes for Brexit. (one sip from the glass of colonial cool aid). The author then mentions US independence which was, like the Magna Carta, intended for the benefit of a privileged group and ignoring the fact that the population of the infant USA comprised a majority of subservient individuals including ‘whites’ i.e. the Declaration of Independence was similarly a protection intended for a select group. Colonial theology demands that we differentiate indentured servants (white) from slaves (colored). The point is that assigning attributes to individuals based on physical appearance, ethnicity and/or religion is a stupid and destructive act. However, consider the multiple times articles in this publication found it necessary to call out Jagmeet Singh as a person of color … as if that defines him or more exactly fits him into colonial thought.
    One thing we might learn from Faber’s thinking is the power of confirmation bias: it should be obvious that the oppressed will have a lower social position than the oppressor but that easily becomes a justification for oppression; consequently, the motivation for segregation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Importantly, to simplify this behavior into a case of racism only is a mistake: we should be well aware that in a capitalist democracy economic status is yet another false discriminator. The story of a group of noblemen protecting their privilege transcending into a story of universal freedom should be instructive.

  4. Imagine if the climate, geography, environment were reversed between
    Africa and Europe, back more than 50,000 years when the homo sapiens
    migrated from Africa to continental Europe. The economic and social pathways
    would be vastly different between the two.