Yeah that flies afoul of the grandma hypothesis, the gay uncle theory and all the other patchwork bits I've seen evolutionary biologists throw at culture to see what sticks. Yeah, if you have kids already your genetic code lives on, but if they're cruising from petty theft to petty theft and growing up Slums of Beverly Hills-style, my posse at Exeter still gonna outcompete 'em even if they are dimwitted hemophiliacs.
Haidt argues that humans should be modeled as 90% chimp 10% bee because if you look at cultural responses to strife, they are not independent and self-serving, they're all about the hive. From that perspective, "I shot my load, I am evolutionarily successful" isn't a compelling argument.
Throw Jon Ronson, Yuval Hariri, Dan Ariely and David Graeber in there and you get a few other thoughts:
- "sociopaths" are basically what Neanderthals were. That 10% ant is the part that you get from language centers and an affinity for a tribe, and the tribe's pooled specializations and innovations are your reward. The ability to pool risk and reward across family groups is what let the cro magnons outcompete the neanderthals.
- "culture" is what allows you to turn anyone not in your tribe into neandethals to outcompete. By allowing individuals to select their tribal affinity, cultures can evolve and outcompete each other.
- "corporations" are a form of culture, and since the dawn of neoliberalism, a sociopathic one. The evolution of neoliberalism was the evolution of sociopathy in an environment that does not punish sociopathy.
- "social media" works because it short-circuits that tribal instinct. In essence, Facebook is a sociopathic corporation whose food group is "people with a 'bee instinct' weak enough to be subverted by a socialization 'trap.'" If you want to compete with Facebook, you compete on their terms.
I find it intriguing to think of "evolution" as something culture can do. It gives you handles on behavior that you would lack otherwise. Facebook, for example, experiences no evolutionary hardship from launching QAanon or the anti-vax groups - they become just another form of gene expression, if you will. A lack of genuine cultural affinity is then demonstrated to be a cultural maladaptation: your friends and family say vaccines prevent illness, Facebook says it's Bill Gates microchipping you for the Zionists, you believe Facebook.
Jonathan Haidt leans heavily on Hume, who was big on naturalism, which - and I'm no philosopher - seems to be the polar opposite of determinism. I dunno. There was a Week cover waaaay back in 2020 (proposal: 2021 shall hereafter be known as 2020.1, 2022 as 2020.2 etc until we're back to something that isn't one endless year with twelve seasons - fuckin' Winter Is Here y'all) that pointed out something I myself had noticed: liberals in crocs wore masks before they had to, and MAGA hats hated them for it. To me? That was the moment where cultural behavior suddenly became evolutionary behavior. It's been thumping about in the back of my mind ever since.
EVERYTHING is wrong with Fascism in the United States. I don't mean that from a moral standpoint I mean it from an evolutionary standpoint. It does not make you richer, it does not make you safer, it does not make you happier, it does not increase your chances of breeding. It is peacock feathers without the pretty. SOME aspect of MAGA-head fascism is going to evolve into something else, and it will outcompete Alpha-MAGAness the way Omicron stomped Delta stomped Alpha.
And I think we'd be better served if we looked at the problem more closely.