While Darwin was correct about evolution over eons, the human species will not evolve into creatures with gills which can survive on both land and sea as climate change melts the polar ice caps and sea levels rise flooding away shore lines and entire states like Florida. Evolution, however, resulted in human beings who can alter their behavior to adapt, e.g. make warm clothes, cultivate plants, and alter their environment, e.g. killing off predatory animals such as wolves, changing course of rivers, in order to enhance their quality of life and the survivability of the species.
Neuroplasticity refers to the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. Neuroplasticity: the Potential for Lifelong Brain Development. Power mongering politicos reduce the voters’ brain to a mindless, non-analytical three step process: meme, emote, vote. No power monger in either the GOP or the Dem wants their voters to analyze facts, because the more the voters’ brain learn to assess data, the more likely they will reject the simplistic memes which both parties impose upon us.
An irony of evolution is that what benefits a tiny faction of society can endanger all of society. Presently, the most dangerous aspect of American society is our embrace of Group Rights which destroys group consensus in the general population and instead turns the nation into warring factions based upon emotional memes. Meanwhile, the 1% becomes vastly more wealthy as the rest suffer.
A meme is “a self-propagating unit of cultural evolution having a resemblance to the gene.” Our nation was based upon the meme that each individual has certain inalienable rights including Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. Individual rights had a necessarily associated but less acknowledged meme, that such inalienable rights can be secured only by cooperative actions, which is why we institute governments. These two memes resulted in some crucial political decisions at the nation’s founding.
(1) In a society where new members would be arriving from vastly different backgrounds, those differences had to be excluded from political life. Not only could one not have special status by religion, ethnicity or race, but one could not be penalized due to religion, ethnicity or race. In the 1700's, the most dangerous backgrounds to political health were religious. Hence, the Constitution separated of church and state. As we see with Justice Alito’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. ___, religion is a horribly destructive force when it gains political control.
(2) They created a Republic based on the rule of law and not a democracy based upon majority vote. No individual is safe when the majority gets to vote which rights actually exist. The subservience of liberty to the popular vote is the result of Dobbs, which was patterned after the Dred Scott Decision [60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857)].
Both (1) individual inalienable rights and (2) a Republic reject the concept of Group Rights. No one gains more rights by belonging to a certain race, etc., and no one may be deprived of rights by being a certain race, etc. The Founding Fathers knew that Group Rights were a lethal threat to a peaceful and prosperous society as Europe had endured millennia of strife, violence and mass murder based upon groups’ trying to dominate each other. The Founding Fathers created a frame work where advantage and discrimination would not be doled out according to which group one belonged.
As de Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America, the benefits of individual inalienable rights, especially Liberty, are difficult to perceive and are arduous to secure, while group rights, e.g. equality based on group membership, seem simple to achieve by voting for equality and taking what others have, while the long term ills are hard to perceive. In other words, if one’s brain has diminished plasticity to learn the complex ramifications of inalienable rights vs group rights, one can myopically promote the rights of their group, oblivious to the great harm one brings upon society.
If people were rational beings in making decisions, then people would not fall for false memes. However, emotion is a stronger force than logic. Human bonding is emotional. Thus, the warm emotional comfort which one gains from belonging to a group surpasses one’s intellectual faculties. There is no substantive neurological difference between the bonding which occurs in a religious sect, an extremist cult and a street gang. Neuroplasticity operates in bonding a group together. The more positive the group’s feedback, the stronger the loyalty and the more the brain will cling to the group’s destructive memes.
The Fear-Hatred Duality
One should not be surprised that fear and hatred play major roles in shaping human behavior. Humans evolved with fear since we were vulnerable from our very beginning. Humans who did not fear wild animals were eliminated from our gene pool. Hatred became an energizing force, and hence, contributed to survival of the group provided hatred was projected outward. Thus, humans are hard wired to respond to both fear and hate. Power mongers use these aspects of neuroplasticity to develop group allegiance based in fear and hatred of other groups. 4-18-21, Hate Money Stalks America. The sense of belonging to a group plus fear and hatred of The Other makes the voters susceptible to emotional memes where facts play no significant role. A crucial ingredient is blind faith that one’s group is true and holy and the other is false and evil.
While Group Rights within a nation always spell disaster by destroying mutual cooperation based upon rational discourse, the Founding Fathers made a valiant attempt to launch a nation which was based cooperation and individual rights where each person could participate in public life based upon individual character. They could not rid us of fractions, i.e. the word which Federalist Paper #10 used for group rights. Perhaps, the demise of the Soviet threat made it inevitable that our group cohesion based on fear and hatred would become directed inward and become internecine hostility and a violent attempt to overthrow the government.
While the nation has always had a extremely tiny far right fringe of White Supremacists, they were a law enforcement problem. William F Buckley, however, got the GOP to excise its extremist elements like the John Birch Society, which was beneficial to society, but he also united the GOP by making liberalism the enemy. 2012, The Heritage Foundation. As the Dems focused on forming a coalition of minority groups, the GOP vs Dem became increasingly racialized. While Buckley may have thought that he had exiled bigotry from the GOP, he was wrong. It remained closed to Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, and Gays, especially to Gays. Pelosi’s Identity Politics solidified the Group Rights as between Whites vs minorities.
Group Rights are easier to maintain when one can look at skin color to decide friend or foe than to assess one’s position on economic policies as they impact the average person. While life always has exceptions, the parties became polarized as Whites v Minority. Trump guaranteed that non-Cuban Hispanics would be unwelcome in the GOP, and White Dems must become Wokers to be acceptable. So, our brains have learned to process information according to our group’s accepted memes. Less than a decade ago, a politician could make a decent argument based on facts, but with Trump we quickly went from Alternative Facts to outrageous and obvious lies as being Gospel. Our brains have learned to sort information not based on evidence but based on group solidarity. Group cohesion when the enemy is external can be a survival adaption, but when accepting mindless memes is turned inward to become intergroup warfare, it destroys the fabric of society.
A Way Out
The best way to get rid of Donald Trump’s divisiveness is for Dems to force Nancy Pelosi to quit the House race now. If Pelosi stays in the race, the GOP’s win in the House will be far greater and that will embolden the Stop the Steal extremists, who will work had to subvert the 2024 election. With Speaker Pelosi gone, the main GOP argument to vote for GOP House candidates is gone. Pelosi’s absence will leave the GOP with extremism and the anti-Liberty The Dobbs Decision as determining factors in many House races. Since it will take time for brains to adjust to a non-Pelosi world, the sooner she is gone, the better for the entire world.
Crossposted with permission from CityWatch-LA.