Category Archive 'Atavism'

14 Mar 2009

“Come for the Egalitarianism, Stay for the Bestiality and Tyranny.”

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In an older essay (have we linked and quoted this one before?) clinical psychologist Gagdad Bob (frequently quoting his own book) explains that it is liberals’ atavism that keeps them from understanding economics, and remarks on the irony of the application of the term “progressive” to the left.

For millennia — until quite recently — human beings struggled to rise above subsistence because of a stubborn inability to recognize how wealth is created. Certainly into the late 18th century, people mistakenly believed that there was simply a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that it was left to individuals and governments to fight over their share. Not until Adam Smith was it recognized that wealth can grow without limits, but obviously even now people have a hard time wrapping their minds around this idea.”

In my view, one of the central mechanisms that kept mankind in its rut of subsistence was the expression of constitutional envy. …

“One of the things that makes the creation of wealth possible is the accumulation of surplus capital to invest, but here again, for most of human history this was quite difficult to accomplish because of envious mind parasites that could not tolerate the idea of one person possessing more than another.” Thus, envy “was one of the psychological barriers to material development that humans have struggled to overcome.”…

Which brings up a fascinating irony about so-called progressives. Now, it is a truism that progressives are not just ignorant of economics, but that they confidently embrace and promulgate what can only be called economic innumeracy. Why is this? How can people be so confidently and yet demonstrably wrong? …

The problem — as I touched on in my book — is that the primitive progressive is operating under an economic theory that is not so much cognitive but genetic. In a way, it’s deeper than thought, since it was programmed into us for survival in small groups (obviously, natural selection did not anticipate a high tech, competitive, free market global economy). Thus, Fiske confirms my speculation that the logic of market pricing was a very late development which is not at all “hard wired” — and even goes against our genetic programming. …

For hunter-gatherers in small bands, sharing, matching and ranking were probably as fundamental to survival as eating and breeding. But market pricing involves complex choices based on mathematical ratios…. Commerce and global trade, of course, require a finely honed version of the market-pricing model. But if humans developed this model relatively late, it might well be less than universal, even today.”..

“In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder.”…

In short, to cure yourself of progressivism — or any other kind of atavistic primitivism — you will have to grow and evolve. This is exactly the problem we are facing in the Islamic world, for if we cannot even lift our own tragically backward progressives out of economic magic and superstition, imagine the difficulty of doing so with an explicitly tribal and authoritarian mindset. …

If the most progressive people are those with a concept of market economics, one of the great tragedies of the modern age has been their systematic destruction by less progressive people who call themselves the most progressive…. I’m wondering whether there might be a basic, persistent inability to distinguish forward from backward. I used to think that ‘progressives’ imagined themselves to be forward in their thinking, but I’m now thinking that ‘scientific Marxism’ might have been grounded in an unacknowledged need for primitivism.”

Would this explain how leftist economic theory functions as a sort of seductive door through which all sorts of other barbarisms rush in? To put the answer in the form of a bumper snicker, “Come for the egalitarianism, stay for the bestiality and tyranny.”

From Dr. Sanity via Bird Dog.


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