Of Wolves and Rabbits

The Elusive Wapiti has an interesting article up in which he references a recent study that argues that, basically, Western society has gotten significantly stupider over time to draw some interesting conclusions:
Certainly their theory has superficial merit, for it is readily measurable that smart women do not reproduce enough to replace themselves and their "partner". Moreover, as hypergamy and geographic mobility tag-team to drive the strenghtening [sic] trend toward assortative mating, doctors today choose their nurses over their secretaries and professors eschew teachers in favor of other professors. The result is that smart pairs with smart and reproduce only a little, while the middling and dim select as sex partners those who are also middling and dim....and reproduce a lot. In other words, the sociological forces in play are dysgenic, in that they produce less intelligence over time. 
With this in mind, it seems that human nature is self-limiting, and that while we marvel at our progress, we sow the seeds of our regression. We fly high up toward the sun, only to have our wings melt as the "fit" in the "survival of the fittest" are not the best specimens but (at best) the average...for it is they who will show up for the future. The future, it seems, may belong not to the K-selected, but to the r-selected "rabbits".
I've been wanting to write about r/K selection theory for a while and how it relates to our modern world. Here is a good opportunity to do just that. I'll start by looking at the basic premises of the theory, then I'll look at how well it describes our modern world, and finally I'll address EW's final point about where the future is going, because it's part of a wider debate in this part of the 'sphere as to exactly where things are going to go- and exactly how bad things are going to get.

Basics of the Theory

For those unfamiliar with the basics of r/K selection theory, I recommend checking out Anonymous Conservative's primer, as I have neither the time nor the expertise to explore every last nuance of it. With apologies to AC if I misrepresent something (and if I do, it is completely unintentional), here is the Compleat Idiot's Guide to how it works.

In evolutionary biology, certain reproductive strategies tend to dominate over certain time periods. These strategies tend to fall into two groups of patterns, the extremes of which form the basis of the theory. One strategy focuses on extreme fecundity over a short time period with low-investment parenting and multiple sexual partners; the other strategy focuses on monogamous, high-investment parenting with a stable set of monogamous partners. The first strategy is aptly described as r-selected or "rabbit" reproduction, and is usually the best survival strategy in a world in which resources are plentiful and predators are few, if any. The second strategy is denoted as "K-selected" and is often referred to as "wolf" reproduction; this is the best survival strategy in a world in which resources are scarce and predators are many.

Each strategy makes good sense in a particular environment. When resources are basically limitless and discomfort is nearly non-existent, for whatever reason, r-selected strategies that focus energy simply on eating and reproducing will inevitably win out. When resources are scarce and discomfort is high due to external factors, the energy taken in reproducing is too great relative to the energy required to defend what one already has.

The two modes of existence can be summarised as follows. In an r-selected environment, there are relatively short periods of plenty, with zero discomfort, followed by relatively long stretches of massive disruption and scarcity and extreme discomfort. In a K-selected environment, there are long stretches of low-level discomfort for some, and with unequal outcomes for all, punctuated by short stretches of high levels of comfort for most and little discomfort for the rest. The two modes phase in and out over time as resource patterns in the external environment and thought patterns within the society itself change.

r/K Selection and Political Affiliation

It is not difficult to extend this binary heuristic approach into politics. It's pretty obvious to inquiring minds which set of the human population is r-selected and which set is K-selected.

Liberals and leftists, with their high time-preferences and lack of self-discipline and control, very much tend toward r-selection; at the extremes of this dichotomy you find populations such as blacks and to a lesser extent Hispanics, who tend to invest little effort in delaying present satisfaction for future rewards, and consequently have large families with multiple sexual partners and exhibit very little investment in parenting individual children.

Conservatives, libertarians, and especially paleolibertarians, with low time-preferences and high tolerance for competition and self-improvement, are very much K-selected. At the extremes of this population you tend to find the gun nuts, hard-core free marketeers, and Bible thumpers (though not necessarily all three at the same time- I, for instance, very much conform to the first two archetypes, not so much to the third). Basically, a population that exhibits strong K-selected tendencies also tends to be introverted or at the very least inward-looking, with extremely strong community bonds, high degrees of homogeneity within the community, a commitment to raising small numbers of children with very high-investment parenting, and a strong belief that unequal outcomes are inevitable in a genetically diverse population where randomness is a daily reality.

The Flaws of the Theory

As with any simple binary heuristic approach to complex human populations, this theory breaks down when applied to specific cases. You may well know liberals who are deeply committed to their children and yet subscribe to the "rainbows and unicorns" variety of politics. You may well know conservatives who believe completely in free-market economics, gun rights, and the Christian faith, and yet are completely useless parents and lousy at being monogamous. I happen to be on good terms with both types of counterexamples.

It is, by the way, possible to hold K-selected beliefs in an r-selected environment, and vice versa. My sister and I were raised by two loving, completely monogamous parents who brought me up with the belief that I had to be better at my studies than my white counterparts, because I would always be viewed as an outsider due to my non-white skin and my non-white name. I was brought up in a very happy, very stable household. Yet, my family has never (at least in my memory) struggled for money, my sister and I have always enjoyed a solidly upper-middle-class lifestyle, and both of us have always had every advantage that my parents could give us.

In my case, I took the ideas of a K-selected individual very much to their logical conclusions; hence, I very strongly support free markets, small government, firmly traditional reproductive patterns, a high degree of access to personal weaponry, and exhibit very strong loyalty to a very small group of mostly like-minded individuals, despite living in an environment in which resources are relatively plentiful (to those with the money to get them, that is), and overall discomfort is fairly low.

In my sister's case, she supports... well, the opposite of all of these things, despite living in a college environment in which certain resources are relatively scarce. She has large groups of friends from various parts of her life, focusing mostly on her high school and college relationships, and the loyalties of that group to individual members of the group change over time.

(In all fairness I strongly suspect that the difference in outlook comes from the fact that my sister's education and living is being paid for by other people- including me, to a limited extent- while I am completely dependent upon the fruits of my own labours and no one else's. It's really easy to be a liberal when the consequences of your choices don't really matter; it's much harder when you have to pay taxes and figure out 401(K)s.)

Despite these differences in outlook, ideology, and experience, all four of my family members are very tightly knit- even though I get into significant arguments with my sister about politics, our relationship still endures.

As with all such theories, you need to take overly rigid applications of the basic ideas with a heaping helping of salt. That said, the realities of r/K selection do provide a good, but not perfect, predictive framework because they are based upon fact, truth, and are both readily observable and replicable. This theory, like game, and like Christianity, is rooted in observable fact as well as in powerful logical truths.

Predicting Using r/K Selection Theory

In game theory- the mathematical version, that is- there exists a classic game of prediction known as the Prisoner's Dilemma. This is the standard example used to introduce students to game theory and the methods by which one can use rational decision-making based on environmental factors and philosophies to predict future outcomes.

The Prisoner's Dilemma offers a very simple scenario with some very profound possible outcomes. Two accomplices suspected of a robbery are arrested by the police. The police interview each one separately and offer the same penalties to both. If one suspect rats out the other, he goes free and the other gets 10 years in prison. If both suspects rat each other out, then each gets 5 years in prison. If neither suspect squeaks, both go completely free. The key here is that neither prisoner knows what the other will do beforehand, but they both know what all of the penalties are. This is therefore known as a game of complete information since both players have complete knowledge of the incentives offered to each of them.

In the single-time-period case of the Prisoner's Dilemma, the optimal strategy for both parties is for each "player" to rat the other out, assuming both players are completely rational and self-interested. However, the multi-period version of this simple game can have many different outcomes depending on the level of penalty involved. If Player A and Player B are interrogated multiple times, it is possible to engineer a strategy of mutual cooperation in which each player refuses to rat the other out as long as neither breaks the agreement to present a unified front. The moment one player breaks this agreement, the other retaliates by always ratting out the first. The key to figuring out what the trigger strategies that ensure mutual cooperation is, and always will be, the rewards and penalties involved. Change the rewards, and you change the outcomes. This is a universal truth in game theory; thus also it is in real life.

It is possible to achieve a predictive model in r/K selection theory using similar analytical methods. An r-selected society will always tend to choose outcomes that yield short-term rewards, regardless of long-term consequences, because of the mentality that abundance and lack of discomfort tend to breed into the psychology of the population. A K-selected society, by contrast, will carefully weigh the long-term future consequences against present rewards, and will often choose to defer short-term pleasure for longer-term stability.

The Grand Cycle of Civilisations

The patterns of r/K selection outcomes can therefore be mapped out over time, and this mapping can very broadly describe the entire historical sweep of human civilisation:

  1. A society starts out K-selected, with enterprising individuals seeking high-risk/high-reward ventures in hostile or foreign lands, and building families in those lands that breed traits of hardiness, ingenuity, and adaptability into the stock.
  2. As time goes by and these traits manifest themselves within the growing population, the colony begins to win out against its environment. Greater material comfort and reduction in physical privation are the rewards for successful applications of these basic traits.
  3. Eventually society reaches the point of true civilisation, and a golden age emerges in which society advances at a tremendous rate due to the hard work and pioneering efforts of those who built it. At some point during this time, the material, spiritual, and political peak of the society is reached, with significant rewards for all members of that society. r-selection begins to set in, slowly at first, then at an accelerating rate.
  4. Decline begins to set it as the population grows soft in the face of material abundance. The old virtues that once sustained society have become outmoded, since it is no longer necessary to be strong, stoic, and honourable when times are good and resources are readily available. By this point, society has become r-selected, because the rewards of immediate consumption far outweigh the rewards of deferring consumption to some unknown future date.
  5. The decline accelerates as opportunism replaces planning, secularism replaces faith, community bonds break down, and the stupid and weak outbreed the smart and strong.
  6. Civilisation finally collapses under the weight of its own complete decadence. Disorder runs rampant, anarchy becomes the norm, resources rapidly become scarce, and the stupid and indigent begin to prey on the smart and the resourceful and then, finally, in utter desperation, upon each other.
  7. The entire grand cycle starts again with small pockets of scattered survivors picking up the pieces and adopting K-selected modes of thought and action to build families, then communities, then civilisations.

You're Not Going to Like the Future

And now we come at last back to the basic point that EW raised. The fact is that the world is polarising, and rapidly at that. I can think of no other point in human history where it has become so completely obvious that some global populations are aligned with r-selected modes of thought, while other populations are aligned with K-selected modes. If you know how an r-selected society works, then it's not difficult to figure out what's coming next.

It has become very clear that the largest minority populations within the Western world are heavily r-selected. This includes blacks, who have already demonstrated an extremely strong tendency towards r-selection in American and European society, and Muslims, who in demographic terms will almost surely take over the entirety of Western Europe within the next 30 years and already exhibit extremely strong tendencies towards both inbreeding and welfarism. To a slightly lesser extent this also includes Hispanics in the USA, who are now the largest minority and exhibit marked trends towards r-selection. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these minorities are growing far faster than the majority populations within which they live

Understand this, and understand it well: demographics is destiny. The demographic patterns that we see in the West today tell me that r-selection will, as EW notes, rule our future course. And Elusive Wapiti is right: the future is going to be r-selected, at least in the short term.

The future is therefore not difficult to predict. We are already currently well into stage 5 of the Grand Cycle. Stage 6 is coming next, and believe me when I say this- it's going to be ugly.

We now have over a billion Muslims in the world, the majority of whom simply do not understand, or do not care to understand, the inner contradictions of their "faith". They breed far faster than their Western counterparts, engage in consanguineous marriage on a regular basis, and- here's the important kicker- subscribe to a "religion" that tells them that non-Muslims are to be: a) converted; b) conquered through fire and steel; c) taxed oppressively.

In America's particular case, Hispanics, particularly in the South, are becoming increasingly vocal in their political ventures and are arguing for special rights for Hispanics, and eventually will almost certainly argue in favour of land "reformation" strategies that will return much of the "conquered" South and Southwest back into Hispanic hands. At that point the r-selected transformation of America will almost surely be complete, and the total collapse of America as a viable political entity will be assured. The best-case scenario, described on multiple occasions by Vox Day, is almost surely the breakup of the United States into three, possible four, separate political entities. The worst-case scenario is far more ugly- massive, genocidal, horrific war waged across the entire continent, with whites and other minorities slaughtered by Latinos and blacks, before the latter two groups eventually turn upon each other.

The Rebuilding

The time after this Collapse will be when the world returns, eventually, to K-selected modes of thought. This may take decades- maybe even centuries. There is no guarantee that we will be able to preserve civilisation until that time. There is not even any guarantee that there will be any civilisation left to preserve. I have no idea when this might take place, or how. I just know that as long as humanity survives its own stupidity and its own tendencies for self-destruction, civilisation will eventually rebuild itself as K-selected individuals and communities strive hard to rebuild what was lost.

There is hope, but it is a distant one. For now, the reality is that the future is very bleak, and very scary. The sooner we all get to grips with what is about to happen, the faster we can prepare ourselves and begin the process of rebuilding when the dust finally clears.

Comments

  1. R/K leanings do appear to be partly biological, especially with regards to amygdala size, so there'll always be both around. The trick is not to seek elimination, but account for the Rs. (much like rats or any other pestilence). The differences between you and your sister, despite similar upbringing, may very well be proven by sex differences - women have noticably smaller amygdalas on average than men do, and while single women tend to swing left, married, settled ones tend to swing right. Hence with today, we get a positive feedback loop of women swinging left which leads to more of the staying single, decreasing their chances of making the transition -

    -Whether it's because staying single and avoiding responsibility better emulates an R-environment or some evo-psych explanation (I've heard a few), the fact does still stand that the means are separate: women are natural socialists.

    On another note, as has been suggested, there are essentially two ways of breaking the cycle of civilisation:

    1. Artificially impose a K-environment on the lowest classes, the "discomfiture at the bottom".
    2. Discover a permanent K-environment that cannot be surmounted: I.E. space.

    The former requires a reactionary society and rejection of Enlightenment ideals, the latter...well, I don't hold out much hope for it.

    To be honest, a growing number of millenials are starting to dream of and desire collapse and a hard life. Maybe the zombie apocalypse won't be so bad after all.

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  2. Good point re: amygdala size. It's true, women do tend to have smaller amygdalae. My sister will eventually find out the hard way just how silly most liberal ideas tend to be when applied to real life- she's already finding out, in fact.

    You're right about millennials wondering what life would be like after the collapse. I'm thinking the same thing. Which reminds me- I need to get a move on and apply for my gun license...

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