Sunday, October 28, 2007


That is the implicit message of the academic journal article below. It could even be a correct message. That it is politically correct there can be no doubt.

The Coevolution of Parochial Altruism and War

By Jung-Kyoo Choi and Samuel Bowles

Altruism-benefiting fellow group members at a cost to oneself-and parochialism-hostility toward individuals not of one's own ethnic, racial, or other group-are common human behaviors. The intersection of the two-which we term "parochial altruism"-is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective because altruistic or parochial behavior reduces one's payoffs by comparison to what one would gain by eschewing these behaviors. But parochial altruism could have evolved if parochialism promoted intergroup hostilities and the combination of altruism and parochialism contributed to success in these conflicts. Our game-theoretic analysis and agent-based simulations show that under conditions likely to have been experienced by late Pleistocene and early Holocene humans, neither parochialism nor altruism would have been viable singly, but by promoting group conflict, they could have evolved jointly.

Science 26 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5850, pp. 636 - 640

Theory and simulations are a very weak source from which to draw any conclusions about real life but let us say for a while that we should take these results seriously. What conclusions can we draw from them?

Does it mean that all war is racist and that we should therefore refrain from war? Obviously not -- or the overthrow of Hitler would be wrong and that was to a small degree actually an anti-racist war. Wars in antiquity also had very little to do with race. Ancient Rome was led by men of all races, not just the men of Latium. The Roman empire was in our terms quite non-racist. Yet it did an awful lot of wars of conquest and the result is generally regarded as a great spread of civilization.

And does all racism lead to war? It may -- depending on how you define racism. It is certainly true that the primitive tribes of (say) New Guinea had just the combination of parochialism and altruism that the researchers above describe -- and the "noble savages" concerned were almost continuously at war with one-another. But we today do not live in primitive tribes.

The British Empire was undoubtedly racist in the modern sense right into the early 20th century. As rulers of the largest empire the world has ever seen (or ever is likely to see) most Brits believed that British superiority was self-evident. But were they "parochial"? They were certainly often and justly described as "insular" but they were not parochial. They were famous as a nation of refuge for the persecuted of other lands (even for Karl Marx) and they did not have completely different rules for insiders and outsiders. Thanks in part to their Jewish cultural heritage (see, for instance, Exodus chapter 23), they believed in impartial justice for all and British justice was in fact at that time famous for exactly that.

Yes: I know that Mosaic justice DID discriminate in some ways between Hebrews and non-Hebrews but it did also stress impartiality and it was certainly the message of impartiality that British Christians got from the Old Testament (Exodus is where those pesky "Ten Commandments" come from). It even led British Christians to see slavery as unjust -- a quite unheard-of notion up until that time.

Indians even sat in the British parliament in the imperial period and when a British army general went over the line in his efforts to maintain imperial order, as General Dyer did in the Amritsar massacre, sanctions came into play and General Dyer was dismissed. At the very height of the empire, the British Conservative Party even made a Jew their Prime Minister -- and a Jew who flaunted his Jewish difference at that. How "hostile" to outsiders can you get?

Nobody would claim perfection for British society of the imperial period (though I personally think it was remarkably good) but it was recognizably at least as fair and impartial as the most fanatically anti-racist society the world has ever seen: The USA of today. So even racist societies may not be parochial and the societies of the Anglosphere today are certainly not parochial. So the "research" reported above is essentially irrelevant to anything but an understanding of primitive tribes.



A good email from a reader: "I enjoy your site, as I continue to try to understand liberals. The other night I was watching a section on bird flu, how viruses work by invading cells to take them over to subvert them to their own purposes. The liberals have been equally successful in taking over powerful institutions for their purposes. It is amazing how easy it is for a few aggressive people of like mind to worm their way into an easy-going controlling group and change its makeup and direction completely. I first saw this decades ago at my university, where I noticed how one new incoming group of pledges with a few activists could completely change a fraternity by taking over the running of the group and then making the institution a reflection of their own desires. This initial takeover was then set for years to come by taking in only new members that felt and acted in the same manner. It usually happened because the majority of those in the group did not care enough or know how to fight the "invaders", and just let it happen."

US preparing to beat Iran's bomb: "Nestled deep in George W.Bush's latest $190 billion request to Congress for emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a tantalising little item that has received scant attention. The US Department of Defence has asked for an additional $US88million to modify B2 stealth bombers so they can carry a 13,600kg bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator (or MOP, in the disarming acronymic vernacular of the military). The MOP is an advanced form of a "bunker-buster", an air-delivered weapon with an explosive capacity to destroy targets deep underground. Explaining the request, the administration says it is in response to an "urgent operational need from theatre commanders". What kind of emergency could that be? Pat yourself on the back if you correctly identified the subterranean nuclear enrichment facilities operated by the Iranian Government in its pursuit of an epoch-altering bomb. The debate in Washington about what to do with the increasingly recalcitrant and self-confident Iranian regime has taken a significant turn in the past few weeks. And the decision to upgrade the bombing capacity of the US military is perhaps the most powerful indication yet that the debate is reaching a climax."

Terrorists fall out: "Al-Qaida sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape by airing excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq. Users of a leading Islamic militant Web forum posted thousands of insults against the pan-Arab station for focusing on excerpts in which bin Laden criticizes insurgents, including his followers. Analysts said the reaction highlighted militants' surprise at bin Laden's words, and their dismay at the deep divisions among al-Qaida and other Iraqi militants that he appeared to be trying to heal.

Farm Subsidies Survive Opposition: "This was the year the antiquated and expensive farm subsidy program was to be reformed. A growing chorus has turned against the $16 billion annual subsidy, which gives most of the money to corporate farms rather than the small farmers for whom the program was designed during the Depression.... Yet ... the 2007 farm bill is pretty much the same as previous versions."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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