Reinventing Human Sociability
only it can't be planned
Our modern problem — and it is not new — is that in our state society the social instincts of the stateless tribe or band don’t translate very well. As Fukuyama says:
Natural human sociability is built around two phenomena: kin selection and reciprocal altruism.
That gets a bit problematic when the modern state practices ethnic politics and politicians exchange gifts with the special interests.
And the other thing is the male warrior culture. That gets a bit problematic when Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr shoot it up across the Hudson in Weehawken, NJ, not to mention modern politicians getting us into world wars.
So, the great human challenge, ever since the start of agriculture, is how to adapt our human sociability instincts to the new world order. It was hard enough trying to do this in the agricultural age, and now we’ve left the agricultural age behind and notched it up with the industrial and information age.
Now, it is my conceit that our lefty friends have made the mistake of the ages, that their culture and politics is a Great Reaction, for what they imagine to be progressive is in fact reactionary:
Great Reaction: Socialism is a return to slavery; the welfare state is a return to feudalism; identity politics is neo-tribalism; reparations is neo-vengeance; activism a return to revolution, rioting for the ruling class, part medieval knight-errantry, and part activisme, or gentry kids putting on a school play for their parents; helpless victims are a return to sacrifice; totalitarianism is a return to the scapegoat; social justice is good old loot and plunder.
Notice that each item in my bill of indictment is related to some sort of instinctive human sociability that our lefty friends have hijacked and taken back to the stone age. And this begins, of course, not later than Rousseau and his Discourse on Inequality. Because inequality is scandalous to our lefty friends, so much so that they created the two most unequal states in human history in Soviet Russia and Maoist China to prove a point about their opposition to inequality.
Did I make myself clear? In their attempts to build an egalitarian society our lefty friends have almost always succeeded in creating brutally unequal societies.
So do we sensible ones think up ways to convert our ancient social instincts into neo-social instincts to serve us in the new age?
Probably not. Because we humans have created all kinds of institutions to help us adapt to the new world, from sports to mutual-aid societies to limited-liability corporations, all without a supervising authority to tell us what to do. Local yokels just went out and did it.
For instance, one new way of socializing in the new world is the idea of merit. Instead of hiring “people like us” or people who have gifted us we hire and deal with people that demonstrate merit. But liberal Ruy Teixeira notes that Democrats have gone back to the future.
Instead of dismantling discrimination and providing assistance so that more people have the opportunity to acquire merit, the real solution is to worry less about merit and more about equal outcomes—“equity” in parlance of our times.
And of course, the ethos of the aggressive “road warrior” is under attack because of the need for “safety” in the business office.
Of course, I understand why our Democratic friends are reactionary. All their top-down ideas have failed, and when things fail humans tend to go back to what worked in the past. Only, of course, our liberal friends cannot bear to go back to the recent past. That would be too humiliating.
But what should we do? Apart from dismantling the Great Reaction of our lefty friends, probably nothing. Because great new ideas tend to come from the bottom up, not the top down.