December 15, 2004

Human Nature Part 2: What we are 

The relatively modern field of evolutionary psychology studies how the nervous system of humans, and thus human behaviour, evolved during our history.

The conclusions of these studies are that most of human behaviour can be explained on the basis of reproductive advantage - the almost unstoppable will of letting our genes survive. For example, scientific studies proved that what men found most attractive in a woman is proportions, particularly the waist/hip ratio - besides good looks altogether.
Why is that? Because a beautiful and well-proportioned woman is less likely to have deformities or to be affected by serious diseases, and thus more likely to successfully carry strong and healthy children who will have the genes of the father.
Likewise, women tend to prefer rich men because wealth will give the children more chances of survival. This mechanisms work at a very basic level, so it's not really necessary to have children with any partner to prove them - and other factors can alter this low-level behaviour.

There are other sources to read to gain insight in the human nature: history books, and even narrative books: the former will give the grand vision, while the latter will shed light on the beliefs, desires and aspirations of the commons. But both the macro-history and the micro-history proceed together, it is not possible to separate them.
So, reading, observing and elaborating, I reached the following conclusions about human nature.

Humans are egoist.

This means that:

- An individual wants to survive, even if others have to die.
- An individual wants to prosper, even if others will live in poverty.
- An individual wants to find a partner and reproduce, even if others will not.
- An individual wants to win and succeed, even if others will lose and fail.
- Any individual cares more for the close ones (the "tribe") than for strangers.

There's more or less everything in these basic concepts: the survival instincts, the competition, the sense of appartenance to a group. I also reached another important conclusion: given that this form of egoism is natural and deeply radicated (at a genetic level probably) in all of us, it is morally neutral. Not bad, neither good, but just a fact to deal with. I also think that for normal humans the "either me or you" mechanisms kick in only in rather dire circumstances, when there is no other solution. Usually, normal humans are quite willing to compromise, and the society rules force use to compromise quite a lot on many issues.

Of course these are somewhat generalizations: some humans show only some of those traits, and there are even a few total altruists, who prefer to get screwed than hurting or offending anyone else. There are also a few evil humans, who just enjoy causing sufference and tribolation to others.

But humans also tend live in groups, and thus morals and laws are needed to balance those primal instincts - where there is no law and no moral, things rapidly degenerate from "I'll kill you, if I really have to" to "I'll kill you, because it's the quickest way to reach my objective". It is not that humans live in groups because of a strong love for other humans. Instead, groups have more chances to survive during difficult times, and the coordinated efforts of several individuals can produce much more wealth and goods and comforts than the same number of people working each one alone. Ultimately, this is egoism too: I work together with others because it will be convenient for me, in the end. But for a group to function, there must be some form of rules and punishment for those who break the rules.

Free and capitalistic societies are hystorically much more successfull than any other because the rules of these societies rely on the inherent human self-interest; this self-interest is then harnessed to be useful for the whole society, but not stifled.
The difficult but highly rewarding task is to build such a society, where people can work for personal gain, while at the same time (almost as a side effect, actually) doing the benefit to the whole society. Thus in these societies hard work and skills are rewarded, and winners and brilliant people get the best places, the best money. Slackers and dimwits have to be happy with the leftovers - and even if this system seems unjust, consider that poor persons in the West would likely be well-off in Africa, India and China.

Communist societies, on the other hand, try to suppress the innate human egoism. Other currents of thought, like post-modernism and such, even tell us that the very existence of winners and losers, of better and worse people, the offence to someone's feelings, are terrible wrongs. The good is being all equal, all levelled to the lowest valley so that no one will ever feel offended. All people will always get the same wage, regardless wether they work hard and with real commitment, or do just the minimum indispensable.

But these systems are unstable: people will feel uncomfortable each time the old instincts and the insuppressable human will to explore, to improve, to do something for one's own satisfaction and gain will surface. The only way for the ruling elites to keep things together is thus oppression and indoctrination, to stop new ideas from taking place and to suppress those people who think differently.

As we all have seen, the Soviet Union could not stand the competition with the West and fell apart - and now its ex-citizens are struggling along the way to freedom.
Islamism gives only little thought to economic issues (the islamist economic system is pretty primitive), but in the field of suppression of individual freedom, oppression and indoctrination, is in the Hall of Shame together with the worst ideologies of history.
Oh, Islamism does not try to stifle some instincts, actually: violence, bloodlust, violent lust and other destructive instincts are in fact encouraged, especially towards anyone perceived as not a real Muslim.

I strongly prefer the capitalist and liberal society of the West (minus the sickening political correctness) over any other social system in history. I am ready to fight for it, and while now I'm just a mind warrior, if forced to a violent confrontation I won't back down.


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