Is social justice advancing our evolution or gaming it?
Wokeness bears all the hallmarks of fundamentalist religion...which, of course, it is.
Fantastic opening salvo, you two. So looking forward to the next.
Happy New Year,
The discussion of hominid evolution at the beginning of this is so fascinating.
26 part? That's a book!
Thanks for a beginning. Somehow we arrived at the polarization of an all or nothing state. Countering woke seems to be an ongoing struggle that will take many years. Clearly appeasement doesn't work. Mockery does have limited success. But wokery seems to be in process of self-destruction in that one can never be woke enough leading to an extreme that has to cause dissonance.
"Counter-Enlightenment Progressivism" is an excellent coinage. But it's broad enough to include old+school Marxism.
From the topic of your next essayl, can I guess that is intentional?
Fascinating and compelling but I parted company at the point where writer says: "Forager societies systematically repress dominance behaviour: by derision, by gossip, by shunning. If need be, by killing."
We have been in societies based on dominance behaviour for 12,000 years or so, following the move from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society. How did we evolve from forager societies with little dominance behaviour into 'civilisations', where dominance behaviour is rewarded and admired? The quote in full is this:
Such a process of killing off the alpha males has both archaeological evidence (larger males with bashed-in skulls) and anthropological evidence. Forager societies systematically repress dominance behaviour: by derision, by gossip, by shunning. If need be, by killing.
Dominance, top-down status, is the normal form of status in group-living mammals, including our primate cousins. Systematic selection against dominance by killing off alpha males led to the evolution of two other forms of status among us Homo sapiens. One is prestige: status through competence; through demonstrated capacity; through successful risk-taking. Young human males in particular are prone to seek such status.
I've been meaning to give this a close look for a while, and I didn't have time until now. If this is the start of the book, it will need to be tightly edited; with that in mind, here are my suggestions, marked out with *asterisks*:
Homo sapiens are the most cooperative of primates.
We evolved cooperative subsistence strategies because we became predators without rending claws or killing jaws. We became apex predators through *the development of* tools and cooperation.
We started down this path before we became human. Our Australopithecine ancestors used stones to smash open bones to extract their marrow and skulls to scoop out the brains. Bones and skulls leftover from the kills of African predators. (Pause for image of our Australopithecine ancestors staggering across the savannah in search of “brains! brains!”.) We moved on to doing our own kills and cooking them around shared fires. *I'd rework this; it feels too early for the joke, and exclamation points come off as very informal in this hemisphere, which feels jarring next to the formal language in the next paragraph*
Our Neanderthal cousins (who are also, to a small extent, our ancestors) were as carnivorous as wolves, hyenas and lions while also, like all humans, being highly adaptable in their dietary strategies. Neanderthal carnivory may be somewhat over-stated by the level of stable isotopes in their collagen, as they also ate carnivores. Still, cooperative tool-making and use was crucial to their subsistence strategy, as it was for all human ancestors.
We humans also evolved cooperative reproduction strategies. It takes almost 20 years for a human forager child to attain the skills to forage as many calories as it consumes. *This is not true. In the jungles, rainforests, and eastern areas of the continents where rainfall is abundant year round, food is plentiful and easily obtained even by neonates: "children can be independent foragers well before maturity, given the right socioecological conditions." See https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abn9889 for more.
It became evolutionarily advantageous for a mother to survive for around 15-20 years after the birth of her last surviving child, creating lengthy post-menopausal survival. Such survival allowed her to invest effort in her children’s children.
The evolutionary pressure to produce bipedal pelvises *better: pelvises adapted to bipedality* structured for energy-efficient, long-distance running to run down prey to exhaustion interacted with the evolutionary pressure for larger brains, creating unusually risky childbirth and unusually helpless infants. We evolved so that much of our brain growth was postponed until after birth. Brain size was not confined to what could pass through a bipedal pelvis.
Human babies spend about 40 per cent of their calories feeding their growing brains. They are helpless brain casings with attached feeding and elimination mechanisms.
Long childhoods meant that birthing another child could not be delayed until the previous child was a juvenile, as other primates do. Otherwise, the gap between children would be far too long for a viable reproduction strategy. A human mother came to care for children of different ages at the same time.
Such vulnerable late pregnancies, helpless infants, long childhoods and “stacked” children meant that risks had to be transferred away from child-rearing. Successful human child-raising became a cooperative, risk-transferring, strategy. *This is* Something that not only all human societies do, but is, in all cases, one of their fundamental features.
Beginning this article (and thus series) with a discussion of evolutionary biology has certainly piqued my interest...
I've always been a proponent of breaking the chains of myopic, Western-centric thinking, and one of the easiest ways to do this is utilizing the tactic you've done here which is going straight to the biological and evolutionary context.
That helps cut away the "everyone thinks like us" blindspot so many Westerners have.
That said, while many responses to this article on "wokeism" debate its relationship to Marxism or the religious aspects of woke ideology, I find these debates have been covered for years, and at this point can only bear so much 'new fruit'.
For me, a more enjoyable recent focus would be on the composition of the ethnic and economic coalitions that form the backbone of woke ideology.
In an attempt to explicate this, I'll mention three or perhaps four main factions driving wokeism in the West.
The first faction consists of affluent, highly educated women.
This demographic is the springboard for movements like MeToo and is a major source of anti-white male rhetoric, particularly as it relates to their perceived indiscretions on reaching gender parity in the socioeconomic sphere. This 'wing' of the Woke Faction has particular strength in places like education - school teachers, professors, authors - and forms the cultural indoctrination arm of the movement.
The second cornerstone of woke ideology is comprised of aggrieved minorities, led most notably by Black folks.
The influence of Black Lives Matter (BLM) here is significant, and it is by far the most well-known and influential organization in 'Classical 21st Century Wokeism'... its reach extends to all other racial and ethnic groups adopting similar anti-white rhetoric.
For example, using a similar BLM "protect Black bodies" or "Black representations matter" framing, South Asians have peppered radioactive discourse in the UK by simply replacing 'Black' with the relatively new shorthand "Brown". Consider the pronouncements of Scotland's current first minister, Humza Yousaf, or London's mayor, Sadiq Khan. Both echo sentiments similar to black liberation movements but framed within their own ethnic contexts.
The third faction is the LGBTQ community, which until recently has been predominantly an affluent, white Western phenomenon.
If anything, countries in sub-Saharan Africa (see: Uganda) and the Middle East (see: Qatar World Cup controversy) are actually ramping UP their positions against this faction.
This identity-focused rhetoric is pervasive, especially among younger people in the U.S. who 'need' to be part of the mainstream Woke movement and thus they can simply 'identify' as something new, and they're part of the in-group.
The last faction, albeit not as overt but equally (if not more) powerful, consists of the wealthy elite advocating for forced diversity initiatives, often divorced from real-world implications for the "commoners."
This seems to be much of the group discussed in this article.
Given the complexity of these factions and their interrelations, a more detailed exploration is not just a luxury but a necessity... I'll probably write something else up myself on all of this as well.
I'll be awaiting your next piece with keen interest.
As always, thank you for sharing your insights; they're invaluable for readers like me who are still navigating these intricate social dynamics.