Do our sociopolitical constructs depend on biological realities, or are we able to transcend these?
Does a phenomenon like war represent a sublimation of biological instincts or is it a purely artificial creation? Is it possible to create political structures apart from biological realities? Is it possible that the failure of particular ideologies (read Marxism-Leninism) is due to the denial of such realities? (Comment by Jose Antonio Neto)
Hi. I would very much like to share with you a few ideas regarding sociopolitical constructs and biology. I’d also like to share a personal opinion as to why Marxist ideas failed. There’s a book I find to be very interesting, namely Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, which you may find interesting too. It tackles these themes in a very open and original way, in my opinion. In particular, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to war as an extension of biological factors beyond the individual, which I found very, very interesting at the time (I am not a specialist in these topics and I would therefore recommend having a look, because, judging by what you say, I think you will find it fascinating).
With regard to ideology, there is a very surprising and eerie phenomenon: the existence of genetic factors in people’s ideologies. In other words, there is a tendency for monozygotic twins to be more similar along these lines than are dizygotic twins (Kandler 2012; Smith 2012; Bell 2009). Both types of twins may share an environment and an education to a great degree, but monozygotic twins are genetically identical. In principle, this would indicate there is something in our biology making us lean towards particular political ideas, in part (although there are technical considerations possibly affecting precise quantification, relating to a shared womb or to the tendency parents may have to treat monozygotic twins more homogeneously). Some authors (Hibbing 2014) suggest that what is inherited are more basic aspects, like a tendency to be untrusting or positive, and this, in turn, is what would lead to a specific type of political belief.
Regarding the failure of Marxist ideologies, to some extent, I think the problem is to do with the fact that, due to natural selection, a great proportion of men’s reproductive success is associated with their ability to accumulate or obtain resources, because it is attractive to women to a certain degree (one can find examples in Hitsch et al. 2010, Dunn & Searle 2010, O’Connor et al. 2014, and a hint of it in Koyama 2004 & Moore 2006). A policy opposed to the accumulation of resources by an individual would keep such things from happening, though clearly it opens the possibility for an individual to achieve more reproductive success than others, if indeed he does succeed in accumulating resources in spite of the policy. Here is a great incentive for the accumulation of resources, which in turn affects the sustainability of an ideal completely equal and just distribution. This is a personal opinion, and I don’t know whether it can be tested, or whether it is testable; but it sounds coherent to me.
Kandler, C., Bleidorn, W., & Riemann, R. (2012). Left or right? Sources of political orientation: The roles of genetic factors, cultural transmission, assortative mating, and personality. Journal of personality and social psychology, 102(3), 633.
Hibbing, J. R., Smith, K. B., & Alford, J. R. (2014). Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in political ideology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37(03), 297–307.
Bell, E., Schermer, J. A., & Vernon, P. A. (2009). The origins of political attitudes and behaviours: An analysis using twins. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 42(04), 855–879.
Smith, K., Alford, J. R., Hatemi, P. K., Eaves, L. J., Funk, C., & Hibbing, J. R. (2012). Biology, ideology, and epistemology: How do we know political attitudes are inherited and why should we care?. American Journal of Political Science, 56(1), 17–33.
Dunn, M. J., & Searle, R. (2010). Effect of manipulated prestige‐car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings. British Journal of Psychology, 101(1), 69–80.
O’Connor, J. J., Fraccaro, P. J., Pisanski, K., Tigue, C. C., O’Donnell, T. J., & Feinberg, D. R. (2014). Social dialect and men’s voice pitch influence women’s mate preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(5), 368–375.
Koyama, N. F., McGain, A., & Hill, R. A. (2004). Self-reported mate preferences and “feminist” attitudes regarding marital relations. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25(5), 327–335.
Moore, F. R., Cassidy, C., Smith, M. J. L., & Perrett, D. I. (2006). The effects of female control of resources on sex-differentiated mate preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(3), 193–205.
Hitsch, G. J., Hortaçsu, A., & Ariely, D. (2010). What makes you click? — Mate preferences in online dating. Quantitative marketing and Economics, 8(4), 393–427.