Sunday, April 12, 2015

Man is a Pack Animal

Everybody from liberals to conservatives to libertarians claims to be scientific, but for the most part, none of them are. The left is always pointing out the fact that some conservatives are creationists (and leaving out the fact that some liberals are also creationists in exactly the same way) while the right mostly cedes this to them and only argues a little about it. This isn't going to be about global warming and other "science" parts of political ideology, but about the very simple fact that almost all ideologies at base deny the nature of man. It all comes from not understanding Darwin.

Okay. There are several ways of getting it wrong, and very few of getting it right. The Blank Slate theory informs most liberal (and some conservative and libertarian) thinking these days. Basically, it's a denial of heredity and the faith that environment determines everything about human beings. Utter nonsense. It leads to disaster in public policy wherever it's believed.

The second big way of getting it wrong is to assume that human beings are individualistic animals. WHAT?  A libertarian denies individualism?  No, not really. Most of the human race — by nature or nurture or both — is pretty darn collectivistic. Libertarian ideology shouldn't deny that, but instead look for ways to make mankind less collectivistic and more individualistic, because we mostly think that individualism is a good thing.

Again, by genetics or culture or some combination of both, certain portions of humanity are more individualistic than others. Europeans more than nonEuropeans, Brits more than other Europeans, Americans more than Brits. But no human beings are completely individualistic. We're pack animals, as Matt Bailey points out. We're not some herd of egalitarian ruminants, nor are we whatever that cat is that want nothing to do with others of his species — tigers, is it? We speak languages, and seem to be most comfortable in tribes of 20-100 individuals. We have occasional hermits, but they are outliers, and are usually only temporary hermits. We seem to be more like wolves than any other familiar animals in that respect. We form hierarchies, we pass wisdom from individual to individual, and pass it on to our descendants. We can do some things best by ourselves, some things best in cooperative or hierarchical groups. When you understand all that, then you can promote individualism without going against human nature.

But, face it. Individualism to any extent is pretty rare with humanity. Most of the species has never heard of it, and if they did hear of it, wouldn't like it. That is why, if you want to live in a comparatively individualistic society, you have to limit the membership of that society to individualistic people. And, hard as it may be to swallow, that means limiting it to European-type people, and the more Northwestern the better.
Quibcag: That's Lum, of Urusei Yatsura (うる星やつら)., and I don't know why I picked her to illustrate this, except that she looks kind of evolutiony.


  1. You are using a different definition of individualism than I (and most other libertarians I have discussed this with) use. Our point is that the individual is where all rights reside; i.e., there are no group rights. And that an individual should be free to act within the constraints of the rights of other individuals (Non-Aggression Principle). Nothing in this definition prevents or even slows down the formation of voluntary associations of individuals for fun and/or profit.

    Yes, this concept is decidedly Western European. But I'm going to come down on the side of nurture, not nature on why. The past several hundred years of Western European culture has changed the proportion of individualists in that geographical area (and the U.S.). No where else have these beliefs been able to take hold in such numbers, but mainly because there has been no way to get the same openness (past their dictators) that began during the Renaissance. However, many folks from those areas have come to the U.S. and embraced individualism. (This obviously excludes the majority of the current wave of immigrants, who are mostly not coming here for the freedom to be an individual, but for more fiscal motives.)

    1. "However, many folks from those areas have come to the U.S. and embraced individualism."

      Not really, every group of immigrants starting in the 1840s with the Irish and Germans has worked to destroy individual liberty in the United States. We would have been better off as a nation had no immigrants been allowed in after 1776.

  2. This article speaks on an individual level. Darwin has multiple levels. Strong groups of individuals will survive past anarchy of individuals.

    Depending on the circumstance, the hungry man contributes more then the complainer? A strong group will remove one of them. Otherwise the group is in anarchy. Or a more stronger group will find a way to help both. Our society is not the later