Has the Left Lost?

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6 Responses

  1. Greg says:

    Excellent essay, but I would make the distinction between the perseverance of evolved psychological predispositions versus specific ideas. Many political and religious ideas are now more-or-less obsolete (e.g., feudalism, demonic position as an explanation for illness). Similarly, when you refer to PC culture and identity politics as ideas that cannot “be banished or left behind,” I’m not sure I agree. Although entrenched psychological modes of information processing (e.g., collectivism vs. individualism) may persist through time, individual ideas may not.

    • danluba says:

      I totally agree that there is a definite distinction to be made between modes of information processing and the ideas they manifest in, and I concede to having perhaps not made this as clear as I could have. I’m not sure that I agree on how fully or how finally our ideas change, though, and I think old ideas can sometimes hide in plain sight though domain transfer. For example, I’ve heard some stories, recently, about courts setting alimony payments according to somewhat inflated income estimates, or refusing to lower existing payments according to changes in the payers circumstances. Alimony payments themselves seem not so far removed from indentured servitude to me, and certainly when courts set the amount that a person must earn for the benefit of another, under threat of imprisonment, I see no difference at all. The ubiquity of indentured servitude during colonial times, as I understand it, was essentially a vestige of the precapitalist feudal system and the introduction of capitalism itself was really just a usurpation of existing power structures by the rising mercantile class, substituting capital for land. I’m not saying that modern capitalism is equal to the feudalism of the dark ages, by any stretch, but I think it’s shot through with many of the same ideas and assumptions.

      As for demonic possession, that’s still alive and well in a lot of places, and only time can tell whether our more modern conceptions of illness are any more accurate (I will fully understand if you think I am reaching a bit, here, but I think it is worth making the observation).

      So, yeah – I agree with you 100% on the separation of psychology and ideas, but I think I subscribe to the notion that there is nothing new under the sun. And as far as identity politics is concerned, I think that is hard-wired, and though our ideas on it might warp and flex, it will be around for as long as we are.

  2. Jose Maanmieli says:

    I think the “right” and the “left” are very distinct psychological tendencies. I am glad you spotted that and I like your reflection. But that is only because of what happens inside social structures that are more relevant to evolutionary psychology like the family, which you do not mention.

    For me, it is pretty obvious that the reason there are these 2 ways to organise a country, is that the predominant mating system is monogamous (the left is female, and the right is male) and that this responds to the allocation of reproductive resources, which is a biological drive that precludes rational negotiation

    “there is no one correct answer to how we should live in such complex societies”- Trade is one very good way to organise society, to it we owe most of our success as a species, and trade has nothing to do with these reproductive farms we call families, cultures and countries; it has to do with transcending them. This has been steadily happening. The more trade we have, the more technology and the less violence, and the less interested people are in this stupid mummy/daddy alternation in domestic decision making.

    “Constant negotiation is necessary and full participation must be encouraged.” – Why must it be encouraged? How can it be full if it involves political borders? This is the biological drive.

    • danluba says:

      I’ll respond paragraph by paragraph:

      I’m interested to know why you think the family is more relevant to evolutionary psychology than survival.

      I can’t help thinking that you are oversimplifying somewhat by conflating political left and right, male and female personality, and reproductive resources. Political organisation, gender identities and reproductive biology are extremely complex systems and surely can’t just be separated out that way.

      Trade is not a way to organize a country – it is one aspect of supporting the well-being of a country. One aspect among a great many others. Both the left and the right would agree that trade is important, though they may differ on the best way to organize and promote it, and to redistribute the profits. I don’t necessarily think that trade automatically equals less violence. The Middle East is extremely violent and this has a lot to do with trade in oil. The drug trade is also causing enormous amounts of violence and logging in South America and other places has led to a lot of fatal clashes between loggers and indigenous peoples. Many are worried that Donald Trump’s trade policies will lead to trade wars. But I know what you mean and I’d agree that trade leads to greater peace where conflicts of interest don’t exist. It has certainly been good for Europe over the last 60 years.

      Full participation in negotiation must be encouraged because the range of positions on the political spectrum, I am arguing, is representative of the range of economic subsystems in complex societies. When a ‘one size fits all’ socioeconomic package doesn’t work for everybody, then negotiations need to take place. The more open and flexible the negotiations are, it seems to me, the more harmonious the society will be.

      • Jose Maanmieli says:

        The family is more relevant to evolutionary psychology because it is a more biological (empirical) concept than political ones. Families have existed since time immemorial. Cognition develops within families, not countries. Decisions are made jointly and the integrity of the unit is unquestionable in all cultures. Etc.

        Saying “it’s extremely complex, so surely…” does not refute any of these arguments. Politics is even more complex, as I say, due to the greater degree of abstraction and you are happy discussing a right/left distinction.

        I cannot really enter a debate around trade if you cannot question political/moral concepts like country. If you want to do science around these things you have be able to question your assumptions. Please check any anthropological text on the emerge and function of trade in homo sapiens. Larger political units are built on top of profits from freer trade, not the other way around. You can see that very clearly in the history of the British and American empires.

  3. Roger Hicks says:

    The state conflates and confounds very different aspects of the original tribal environment in which human nature evolved, long before the first states and civilisations emerged from it, with the modern “nation state” now deceitfully posing as our tribe or nation (intra- and inter-tribal environment) itself, while at the same time facilitating society’s SELF-exploitation (as an extra-tribal environment, on a par with the natural environment) to the personal advantage of its ruling elites and favoured (especially wealthy and academic/formerly priestly) clients, at the expense of society at large and its long-term survival.

    As privileged clients and employees of the state themselves, academics have failed to recognise this, having a massive personal self-interest (subconscious more than conscious) in rationalising and defending the role of the state, its self-image (as our “nation”) and ideologies (social, political, economic and racial, formerly religious), on which the state bases its claim to moral and knowledgeable authority.

    Civilisations are thus bound to a cycle of boom and bust, which ultimately leads to their demise, as evidenced by our knowledge of all prior civilisations. Our own civilisation, having experienced an unprecedented boom phase, is now rapidly approach what will be an unprecedented, probably terminal, bust phase. This doesn’t bear thinking about, especially if you have children and grandchildren, which is another reason for not doing so.

    I elaborate on these ideas in my blog which I have linked to.

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