Personality and intelligence are genetically determined traits
Demographics matter. Biology matters. People’s personalities, including non-cognitive traits that affect life outcomes, are highly heritable. Specific pro-social temperaments conducive to civilization have been demonstrated to be genetically determined in animal studies with foxes and mice. In addition, all relevant identical twin studies have found that genetics accounts for at minimum 45% of the total variation in intelligence within populations. A significant portion of studies, notably including the most comprehensive ones, have estimated the genetic contribution to be between 70 and 80%. The heritability of intelligence has also been demonstrated in non-human primates.
IQ as a measure of intelligence and a predictor of positive outcomes has been demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt. Not only are those with high IQ more likely to have positive life outcomes on a personal level, but their efforts as a class contribute significantly more to the economic health and technological progress of civilization than the average or low IQ classes. IQ is so important to civilization, in fact, that the relative wealth of a country can be accurately predicted from average IQ*. Intriguingly gains that result from increasing intelligence do not suffer from the law of diminishing returns. Therefore, the relative fertility of high intelligence vs. low intelligence people has significant implications for the evolution of civilization and humanity.
The intellectual and psychological traits of the most fertile will come to dominate a population given enough generations
Social programs like welfare for single mothers support the r-selected mating strategies favored by the less intelligent and would not have been feasible in past cultures or in the state of nature. The indifference of natural selection and the proper disgust of our ancestors meant that irresponsibility in reproduction resulted in lower fitness for r selected breeding patterns and maintained a hard ceiling on the fraction of people who could employ those strategies. In the modern west, redistribution of wealth from k selected to r selected individuals simultaneously reduces the number of children the k selected can afford to raise to be productive, educated members of society and artificially increases the number of future net tax consumers the r selected can (just barely) maintain. Such policies are doomed to fail given enough generations because advantaging the fertility of the unproductive at the expense of the fertility of the productive enlarges demand for state funds while concurrently reducing supply as the relative ratio of k/r people shrinks over multiple generations. If preserving a stable and prosperous civilization is admitted as a valuable goal, then the fertility of irresponsible people with high time preference must be kept lower than those who collectively work towards a better future civilization through low time preference strategies. Though it is possible to temporarily support the r selected due to the productive inertia created by the far less charitable culture of our ancestors, there is no conceivable reality where that is sustainable over many generations. Ultimately, this path leads to the anarchy and destruction of civilization that has been described as the left singularity.
A left singularity, though brutal, would not be a permanent state of human affairs assuming there were survivors. The chaos would bring back unmitigated natural selection to act on humanity in all of its harsh and pitiless cruelty. It would undoubtedly be the r selected who would be preferentially culled.
How such an outcome, with the near universal expansion of human suffering associated with it, could be prevented is one of the the most important priorities of neoreactionary thought. Any durable, and thus sane, social organization that aims to “spare civilization from frenzied, ruinous, gluttonous debauch” must have mechanisms in place which boosts the fertility of the most productive members of society while minimizing the contribution to the next generation by the least productive. Preferably, the greater the contributions an individual yields to society, the greater his fertility is promoted by sound eugenics policies and would ultimately lead to a right singularity.
It is probable that such conditions, created by some accidental strokes of luck, primed the British population for the industrial revolution. As the natural aristocracy had significantly more children than the poor, the cultural and (mainly)biological traits that made them effective spread throughout all classes of British society. Once the intelligent fraction of society increased sufficiently, it perhaps was only a matter of time before a technological explosion took place.
* With regards to the wealth and IQ of nations study linked in the first paragraph.
In fairness, it must be noted that for particularly poor countries malnutrition, starvation, and disease can suppress average IQ, which suggests it might be possible for some improvement in the worst off countries. However, rich countries effectively control for these variables by eliminating the most extreme negative environmental conditions for the vast majority of the population. In the controlled and equal opportunity environment created by civilization, the contribution of genetics becomes overwhelmingly dominant and it is able to create considerable variation in and between individuals and populations without much need for a role of environmental factors. That very extreme environments can suppress IQ does not alter the high contribution genetics makes to the trait. Genetics are best thought of as determining the maximum potential intelligence an individual can achieve, while environment determines whether that potential is actually reached or not.
A good analogy would be a glass you are trying to fill with water. The size of the glass, and thus volume of water it can contain, is fixed based on its original manufacture specifications. Depending upon how much water you have, you can fill it to any level up to the maximum volume, but if you try to add more past that point the water is just spilled and wasted.
It should be possible to approximate how much traction could be expected to be gained from environmental interventions that ignore eugenics in third world countries by comparing populations from that country in the first world. In the United States, the mean IQ of the black population is 85, while in Africa it is 70. If a colonialist dictator were to go in and dismiss the corrupt native institutions, appointed only competent government administrators and created effective institutions thus affecting the sort of environmental interventions that would be required for maximizing native IQ, you would still only expect the average to move to 85. Now, a 15 point jump is nothing to sneeze at, it would be a huge improvement, but a civilization it could not make without meticulous administration by an intellectual elite (aristocracy) with a much higher mean.
There is no environmental alteration that can make a person exceed their innately defined ability. Therefore, environmental interventions have a hard ceiling on their potential effectiveness on improving individuals. As previously argued, however, environmental interventions which alter relative fertility can raise increase potential (the size of the glass) over several generations. What isn’t possible for the individual should be possible for a population.