Communism is for hunter-gatherers, capitalism is for modern humans. By David Archibald.
Sydney-based prophet Richard Fernandez senses that we are approaching a discontinuum:
Once you break the precedent and dash the old political paradigm to pieces you really can’t stop short of establishing a new one. There is no pausing in the middle because there is no middle. This is the iron curse of every revolution. …
That coming new world will require a new political system. This provides the opportunity to make society happier and more productive. This will be achieved by aligning societal norms with our biology. The less discordance there is between our culture and our biology, the less societal friction there will be. Individual productivity will rise and so will our standard of living.
The human difference with other species is high IQs:
Humans are only 400 generations from our past as purely hunter-gatherers. Before that we had 80,000 generations of pair-bonding, of which at least the last 12,000 generations had the adult males hunting in groups. We are still largely hunter-gatherers from the plains of Africa.
Why that is important is detailed in a study by Richard Skoyles entitled “Human metabolic adaptations and prolonged expensive neurodevelopment: A review”. Humans are the most intelligent species. Cats and dogs have average IQs in the 30 to 40 range, Australian aboriginals 60, black Africans 70, Saharan Africa 80, China, Japan and Europe are about 100, and Ashkenazi Jews 115.
To get to that IQ, children, compared to the young of other species, have an extended childhood during which they have reliable food provision from the family and the tribe. A high proportion of this food provision is to support brain function and development. In children the brain consumes about 60% of the basic metabolic rate, compared to the adult rate of 20%, and 40% of total energy expenditure versus 10% in adults. …
How biology shaped hunter-gatherer politics:
Between the ages of four and nine, a child’s brain consumes 50% more energy than the adult brain. … The energy cost of the brain in children is much higher per unit of volume than in adults due to a continuing high rate of synapse formation. Across adult vertebrates, the mean energy consumption of the central nervous system is 5.3%. This rises to 10% in primates and 20% in humans.
Brain energy consumption peaks at 70% of the basal metabolic rate at age 4. This high investment greatly enhances the capacity of humans for complex thought.
The australopith (4.1 To 1.4 million years ago) diet, like that of other hominoids, was predominately vegetarian and so required few adult-specific skills. But with the Homo diet, this changed to one that depended upon proficient complex forms of expertise, because it included high-energy foods such as meat and tubers, that were acquired by adults in a wide territory using socially cooperative-based hunter-gathering.
Further, at some stage, the energy and nutrition content of such foods was enhanced by adult skills in cooking. Cooked meat requires 25% less energy to digest that raw meat.
A further key behavioral innovation –– because it radically changes the reliability of energy provision and its support for juveniles and mothers –– is group food-pooling behavior.
In studies of hunter-gatherer tribes, group food-pooling behavior has been found to occur in a substantial proportion of the high energy foods collected by the tribe.
Group food-pooling behavior minimizes differences in the individual capacity to acquire food resources. Importantly, it also makes food availability more reliable for any individual band member, because it buffers them against daily variability in their own foraging success.
This is crucial to survival, as the high-energy foods exploited by human foragers cannot be relied upon on a daily basis, because they are environmentally patchy.
A consequence of food-pooling is that hunter-gatherer foragers lack within-group variations in body mass index and percent body fat. They exist in what anthropologists call “nutritional homogeneity.” This equal access to resources across the forager band has the effect of equalizing the growth of its children, irrespective of the hunting ability of their parents.
This situation contrasts with wild hominoids such as chimpanzees, which show marked individual differences in mass that are related to their own or their mother’s ability to gather food. …
Brains couldn’t get bigger, so they had to get smarter over longer childhoods:
The existence of prolonged, energy-expensive neurodevelopment in children suggests this is as important to human evolution as increased brain size. Brain size within modern human range was achieved several hundred thousand years ago. Neanderthals, for example, have similar or greater cranial volume than modern humans, even though the two species of humans separated from a common ancestor 311,000 to 435,000 years ago. Why brain size hasn’t increased is an open question.
One theory is that it could link to the difficulties of passing heads of larger size through the birth canal, and to limits upon further pelvis expansion due to the biomechanics of efficient bipedality. …
Total brain size only moderately correlates with IQ. Given that human brains in the modern size range had already arisen several hundred thousand years ago, it seems that further increase in size was not necessarily of much advantage.
This implies that additional evolutionary increases in cognitive ability could have come about through some other change to the brain, such as an increased period of superabundant synapses during childhood. …
Human childhood is metabolically notable as a period during which body growth is extraordinary slow — half that of juvenile chimpanzees. … The childhood brain, indeed, due to its size and high energy consumption dominates the energy budget of the entire body. …
It is notable that human food-pooling also acts to buffer food resources, but at the group bonded level. This benefits adults as much as dependent young and pregnant/lactating mothers. It allows foraging humans to exploit more patchy but higher energy food sources.
Central to these processes is the capacity of humans for making and sharing richly detailed accounts of other peoples’ behaviors that can affect their social reputations. Of 308 conversations studied in one hunter-gatherer band, 171 involved criticism linked to enforcement of norms. Of these, 22% involved mocking, joking, or pantomime; 41%, outright complaint or criticism; 35%, harsh criticism; and 2% actual violence.
Group food-pooling behavior gave us our big brains. The downside is that working hard is discouraged. The death rate in hunting groups is proportional to how far they have to go to bring back game. Once you were fed you stopped work because that only got you killed, with no benefit to your own family. If it took a while for the tribe to eat a carcass then it would start going off. Rather than waste the rotting meat, humans adapted to that by developing stomach acid with a pH of 1.2, equivalent to that of scavenging animals such as vultures.
Group food-pooling also meant that we had 12,000 generations of enforced communism — from each according to his ability, and to each according to his needs….
Agriculture changed everything:
The first dental caries seen are in skeletons 15,000 years old, showing that our diet had started changing. Wheat growing was in full swing by 10,000 years ago. This turned the tables.
Instead of extra work getting you killed, the harder you worked the more grain you could store and the more likely you would survive a drought. Civilization took off as individual productivity was maximized.
Socialism is for hunter-gatherers, but it’s written into our genes:
The implication of all this is that socialism is reactionary, based on a system of human organization that went out of date 10,000 years ago. And shedding that reactionary mindset makes better people. It is well known that conservatives are happier than socialists and also have a greater sense of meaning in their lives.
A revolutionary suggestion:
Now is the time to ask Lenin’s question: What is to be done?
Even older than group food-pooling behaviour is pair bonding, 80,000 generations of it. All human societies evolved a form of marriage, and the reason for that hasn’t changed. Human babies and infants are so labour-intensive that it takes more than one adult to look after them. Trying to pretend otherwise results in discord, anxiety, and disappointment.
In the coming cathartic event alluded to by Richard Fernandez, everything will be on the table. To make a better society by aligning cultural norms with our biology, voting by females should be restricted to those who have produced two infants in wedlock. This will remove the problem of single women voting leftwing. This can and should be done.
No wonder the left hates biology and its implications for politics. Instead, the left diverts us with nonsense like “her penis.”
David A. adds:
It has taken me 10 years-odd to write that article. When I came across Skoyle’s paper it took me reading it five times before I thought I understood it. This is the problem of academics writing in a stilted style to impress other academics.
I knew it was important but I had to overcome my own limitations to process it.
It is basically the reason why we have left and right in politics. It may be the reason why politics in Western countries is split 50:50 socialist to conservative. Civilizations won’t advance until they are at least 50% conservative.
Most conservatives don’t know why they are conservatives. People have run on the assumption that caring and sharing is better. Now we know the why of why it isn’t.
Our path leads to a result that is happier and with a higher standard of living. There is a big literature on why conservatives are better people. There is the opportunity to bring it all together.