Evolutionary Politics

Fascinating. Via Andrew Sullivan’s summary at

Political Biology

Chris Mooney looks at a book by Avi Tuschman about evolutionary accounts of politics—

Conservatives, he suggests in one of three interrelated evolutionary accounts of the origins of politics, are a modern reflection of an evolutionary impulse that leads some of us to seek to control sexual reproduction and keep it within a relatively homogenous group. This naturally makes today’s conservatives more tribal and in-group oriented; if tribalism does anything, it makes it clear who you are and aren’t supposed to mate with.

Tuschman’s liberals, in contrast, are a modern reflection of an evolutionary impulse to take risks, and thereby pull in more genetic diversity through outbreeding. This naturally makes today’s liberals more exploratory and cosmopolitan, just as the personality tests always suggest. Ultimately, Tuschman bluntly writes, it all comes down to “different attitudes toward the transmission of DNA.” And if you want to set these two groups at absolute war with one another, all you need is something like the 1960s.

While a review of the same book by Arnold Kling says Tuschman is engaged in confirmation bias:

Overall, the pattern is that for Tuschman, every evil of conservatives is essential, by which I mean that it follows directly from the conservative point of view. On the other hand, every evil of the left is accidental, meaning that it occurs in spite of what leftists believe.

Tuschman’s account does sound very similar to other such analyses.

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