E. O. Wilson has published his latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth. This book covers the current scientific theory of "group selection" in human evolution. In a given human group, the greedy people are the ones who do better, while competition between groups favors those which are altruistic. This got us thinking about American politics, and in particular, the suggestion that one primary difference between conservatives and liberals is the moral imperative to preserve hierarchies versus the imperative to promote equality for all.
Is the hierarchy an expression of greed that best favors individuals within a single group, while equality is the altruistic trait that allows a group to succeed over others? If so, then these factors that regulate social conquest and human evolution are the inescapable two sides of any coin, the yin and yang of any society in a global context.
As Dr. Wilson noted, there is no way to avoid the interplay of greed and altruism, but that it is necessary to learn to moderate them. In other words, we are just as stuck with conservatives and liberals as we are with night and day. A lot of time is spent ranting about this being a fight of "good" versus "evil" but rather, it seems to be an issue of teaching each other to think less selfishly and more to think about the well-being of others. We can learn to temper the extent to which greed (promotion of the individual) wins out over altruism (promotion of the group).
American society today is in the throes of a wave of conservative selfishness. Disproportionate amounts of wealth are held by handfuls of people, and the GOP is hell-bent on keeping it this way. Conservatives are pushing rights-limiting legislation to slowly chip away at the freedoms of all people to force all citizens to live the way they do. Fear is spread more than truth, science is treated as a scourge, and even the most unpolitical issues are politicized into divisive wedge issues, all by the conservative media. Conservative candidates seem to want to be elected much more than they want to govern, because being in charge means being at the top of the social order. To me, at least, it all makes sense now.
Selfishness puts one at the top of the hierarchy and keeps things good for those who have it, while making those who don't slobber and drool at the prospect that one day, it could be theirs too.
I have to suspect that those who aren't already rich, dream of seeing themselves in biggest house at the richest end of town, and ask, "how could I ever get in there if everyone is truly equal? All my wealth would be taken from me and shared with the lazy and undeserving to prop them up, and when I make it big, I want to keep every last penny!"
What is lost is the bigger view, that working only for your own gain does not help the group as a whole. Human history and evolution over the last few million years shows this to be true. The Founding Fathers figured this out when they created America to be a country unlike any other. I have a hard time seeing how we can maintain the greatness which conservatives to tightly cleave to, if we are chopping our own knees off by failing to keep up the very acts and practices that got us here. A country of inequality cannot prosper on a global scale.
At this point, the ideological entrenchment of prominent conservatives is so deep that they may not be able to see the importance of altruism until the consequences of their own selfishness are rained down upon them just as severely as their choices affect others. This is why we created the REPRIMAND project, and now we have learned that there is a solid scientific argument behind it. The path to equality for all will require breaking down the walls of hierarchy by teaching our conservative counterparts to recognize and moderate their selfish impulses.
If you agree with these thoughts, please SHARE them far and wide with your friends so that we all do more than merely complain about the problem. Write your lawmakers and explain to them the importance of striking back against all restrictive conservative legislation with measures that affect them just as deeply, if not more. By educating conservatives, we can change the future for the better.