Sunday, July 17, 2016

Human Dodos

Before reading on, you should take a look at this introductory post first.


In the beginning, all human groups were necessarily clannish.
"We are social creatures surviving only in groups, but there is no celestial police force guarding each one of us. If we don't stick with our kin, some other group will make us toast (in the baleful meaning of that phrase)."
Trouble is, a society based on xenophobic clans doesn't scale. As Dr Fukuyama wrote:
"... state-building requires overcoming the strong bonds of kin. States were recurrently prone to being colonized by their officials’ nepotism (favouring their relations), dynasticism (seeking to have their offspring inherit their office), tribalism, and clannishness."
Typically it was a combination of war and religion which broke the power of the clans. Given gene-culture coevolution, the people who got to run countries and empires evolved different moral and psychological characteristics than those of a Genghis Khan style warlord - or of the smallfolk.

Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory gives us the clue, as Wikipedia explains.

From the Wikipedia article

According to Haidt and his co-workers, there are six moral foundations which underlie human moral behaviour:
  1. Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm.
  2. Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating.
  3. Liberty: the loathing of tyranny; opposite of oppression.
  4. Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal.
  5. Authority or respect: obeying tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion.
  6. Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation.
Not everyone exhibits moral feelings equally along all six axes. The differences are most stark in political terms: conservatives do indeed seem to feel all six moral emotions; liberals by contrast tend to feel primarily the moral senses of care and fairness, while libertarians tend to be motivated by fairness and liberty (and not to be much bothered by the other four dimensions).

Why is this? Wikipedia explains:
"Researchers postulate that the six moral foundations arose as solutions to problems common in the ancestral hunter-gatherer environment, in particular inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflict. The three foundations unique to conservatives (Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity) bind groups together for greater strength in inter-tribal competition; the other three foundations balance those tendencies with concern for individuals within the group.

"With reduced sensitivity to the groupish moral foundations, progressives tend to promote a more universalist morality. In attempting to show which moral matrix is "correct", progressives and libertarians may argue that the six moral foundations arose in a now non-existent tribal environment, and their evolution lags behind modern conditions, with larger-scale cities, countries, and supranational unions.

"Conservatives may counter that human beings remain cognitively designed for life in groups whose size does not exceed Dunbar's number, and that it is wishful thinking to expect group competition and conflict to disappear in the foreseeable future ... ."
As I observed in the introductory post,
"In the west we are so socialised into an atomised mode of life, mediated only by the nuclear family, that we see kin-groups (clans and gangs) as profoundly primitive and 'other'. But our way of life depends upon the integrity of a strong state exerting 'just power' through depersonalised laws. And a lot of conscious inhibition of retributive impulses.

"Erode that state, or let it collapse, and the only individualists left will be dead individualists."
Liberal thinking is the ideology of the privileged individualist, autonomous lifestyle choices guaranteed by the abstract power of the state. The Social Justice Warriors (the vanguard of liberalism) are the shock troops of the war for ever more benign laws, equalising people and outcomes alike.

Who could disagree? What could possibly go wrong?

In its own terms, liberalism is the progressive destination of all mankind - in this it has the same cultural dynamic as Marxism.

By definition, to be a less liberal polity is to be a more benighted one with a moral duty to be superseded.

But ...

The premise of liberalism is that, in all essentials, everyone is the same. There are no systemic human differences of personality, intelligence, motivation or even moral sense. In the liberal target-environment we never have any serious differences of opinion because everyone is so prosocial; all apparent conflicts can and will be settled by discussion in a spirit of goodwill.

Good luck with that!

A moment's cursory reflection upon the world and life experience will render you, the reader, open-mouthed in astonishment that anyone could ever believe such naive nonsense.

Because of this profoundly wrong theory of human nature, liberal thinking (so useful for running complex multi-ethnic empires when times are good) lets you down so badly when the problems start to multiply.


Things were really good for the dodos for a while: they grew fat in an environment of plenty with no natural predators.

The dodo is a variant of the dove. Game theory tells us that when a society composed purely of doves meets a predator, the doves are toast.


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