Within this book you will find an attempt to explain the Conservative and Liberal mindset through evolutionary psychology. The amount of sources and science would be intimidating if it wasn’t such an easy to read book, which for myself represents the ability of the anonymous author to express difficult ideas in distilled words.
The core argument for the book is that our political ideologies stem from a biological sexual selection process which has been expanded to become the philosophy of a set of two types of people – these two types of people are the r and the K. The sexual selection theory of r/K is rather simple. The r type breeds as fast as possible, coming to sexual maturity young, breeding young and breeding many. Because of this the amount of time and energy to raise each child is limited and results in a breeding theory which produces weak minded and emotionally damaged children who will go on to breed in the same way. That is to say, the r type produces more r types, fast and many. While the K type breed late, waiting for sexual maturity at a later date, taking on one partner and breeding few children, but pouring all of their time and effort into those children to produce strong and competitive children.
The author uses the example of a rabbit as the r type. The r type will produce until it over populates and depletes all resources. Much like how the rabbit will breed rapidly in order to fill a set amount of land and then acts as if resources are unlimited. Only its predator can stop it from destroying the entire area. Because of the way rabbits breed they do not look out for each other because they have a safety in numbers. Thus they do not care if their own are attacked, they carry on as if they are safe.
For the K type the author uses the example of wolves. The wolf is a competitive pack animal which works under strict hierarchy systems. They breed little and are extremely selective in their mates. Attempts to disobey the social laws and hierarchy will result in banishment or death. Because of the rough conditions which the wolves live in, they rely on limited resources and have to adopt conservative measures which demand a hierarchy for who deserves food and mating, and thus produces strong young. They know that over breeding, or not breeding with the best of the group will result in young which will die in their environment, and because the group is the most important part of their life, that is unacceptable.
This r/K sexual selection theory takes on a life of its own when it is expanded to include generalised competitive tactics for mates, resources and life philosophies. When it comes to group competitions the r type will use anti-competition in order to compete, and the K type will overtly compete. The r type will use deception in order to compete because they cannot compete by their own intelligence or body power, they have to trick to get breeding rights. While the K merely has to compete and win, the K types who lose accept the hierarchy and compete at their own level.
The example that is given by the author of the competitiveness and anti-competitiveness is that of the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish have a ritualistic system of mating rituals which the males take part in while the females lay at the bottom of the ocean waiting to be mated with, which is where the winning males swim down after winning their competition. The male cuttlefish have a vibrant colour system to show health and dominance, and their tentacles are long, while the females have a dull colour, and short and stumpy tentacles. What the r type males do is wait for the K types to be fighting it out showing their colours and strong tentacles, this is when the r type males pull their tentacles in to look short and fat, and don a dull colour to look like a female. By becoming a transvestite it swims passed the K types who just assume it is a female, and then it swims down to the females who allow it to breed with them assuming it is a male who has won the competition. This is how the r type deceives the entire society in order to pass on his seed, and secure the anti-competitiveness of the group.
This is later put forward in the chapters on the appeaser and the warrior. As you can probably guess, the appeaser is the r type and the warrior is the K. A simplified version of these two types would look like so – appeaser: does not identify with its in-group, views all out-groups as noble and loyal, will side with outside groups K types in order to have their in-group K types removed in order to gain a competitive edge. Will become an apologetic for terrorism units and death of their own soldiers, will using every opportunity to degrade their own group and people. Warrior: extreme in-group loyalty, will aggressively fight outside K groups in order to judge their own health and competitiveness, will keep their own K types in line within the hierarchy system and ostracise r type behaviour in order to keep it under control.
The author also puts forward that when a society is more K type it happily competes openly and fairly, and accepts its position without complaint, happily following a stronger leader and obeying them because they realistically judge their own abilities. This forms a society that knows that resources are limited, and that the best way to have a strong society is to compete with a fair and free system – for example they would be free-market, and wish to have a small state in order to maximise competition. Because of how important competition is to them they will be monogamous, breeding with one person and producing few children, but pouring all of their resources and time into making those children strong and competitive.
While as a society becomes more r type it will stop wanting open competition, and instead force a lack of it. They will oppose all hierarchy systems and rebel with every opportunity to obey their betters. This results in a big state which becomes the parent, punishing the successful and productive to reward the physically weak and the intellectually useless. Because they view resources as unlimited and easily shareable, they will concentrate on breeding, or simply sexual pleasure resulting in mass populations, a sexually liberal society, an acceptance of a lack of marriage, homosexuality, transexuality, mass fornication, anti-monogamous, androgyny, and gender swapping. The state will get bigger in order to provide these base-pleasures, while the ostracisation for not taking responsibility, unethical child rearing and unhealthy relationships is removed. This will later result in the swapping of gender roles – the males will become weak and passive, and look for strong women to fend for their children while they leave several single mothers behind. The females will become more aggressive and physically stronger in order to compete and secure resources for their child or avoid children all together which results in them looking for feminine men who are only around for sexual pleasure. This is expressed in the book as: “more masculine women had more sex partners and had a less restricted sociosexual orientation than did less masculine women; less masculine men had a higher sex drive than did more masculine men.”
All of these things are put forward in piecemeal. Each chapter and argument comes together to build a landscape argument which by the end either clicks for you as an “ah ha!” moment, or you will simply throw it away (judging from the few bad reviews I have seen for this book). I have a suspicious feeling that the ah ha click moment will be determined by your political ideology, which would, if true, prove the book’s underlying argument. Read it and find out.
1. A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade.
2. The Descent of Man: Selection in Relation to Sex (Penguin Classics) by Charles Darwin.
3. The Selfish Gene: 40th Anniversary edition (Oxford Landmark Science) by Richard Dawkins.
4. Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships (Penguin Life) by Eric Berne.
5. Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 by R. J. Rummel.
6. Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compasionate Conservatism – Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why it Matters by Arthur C. Brooks.
7. 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution by Gregory Cochran, Henry Harpending.
8. The Clash Of Civilizations: And The Remaking Of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington.
9. Depression: The Evolution of Powerlessness by P. Gilbert.
10. The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark.
11. Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide by Martin Daly.
12. The Way of Men by Jack Donovan.
13. Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Series in Affective Science) by Jaak Panksepp.
14. Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M Sapolsky.
15. The Trouble with Testosterone by Robert M. Sapolsky.
16. Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide (Beginner’s Guides) by Robin Dunbar.
17. Human Evolution: Our Brains and Behavior by Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar.