Some thoughts on Richard Wrangham
My last blog (“Chimpanzees don’t believe in open borders“) necessarily highlighted the work of Richard Wrangham, the Harvard primatologist whose theory on coalitional aggression by male chimpanzees was strongly supported by the study of Mantini et al. Wrangham argues that chimps and humans have both inherited a propensity for aggressive territoriality from a chimplike ancestor. War engaged in by cooperating males was adaptive in our evolutionary past and therefore left its mark in the human mind.
This is a remarkably unsentimental view of the human past–Darwinism red in tooth and claw. And it provides strong support for a biological basis for some of the nastier human qualities that the intellectual left wants to see as grounded solely in pathological cultures.
So one would think that someone like Wrangham would be open to a theory of group competition such as my theory of group evolutionary strategies. Wrangham’s work shows that group competition predated human culture. My theory expands on that to between-group competition not by warfare but over other resources: social dominance, financial resources, and–most centrally–over the construction of culture. My approach is combined with theory and data showing that the higher mental processes central to culture can regulate the more ancient evolved systems of the brain (e.g., ethnocentrism) like the ones that Wrangham’s research points to.
Unlike chimpanzees, humans are therefore quite prone to maladaptive cultures. In contemporary human societies, a large part of group competition becomes intellectual warfare over the construction of culture. Hence my book The Culture of Critique which shows that several important intellectual movements dominated by strongly identified Jews who were acting to advance Jewish interests collectively managed to dominate intellectual discourse on race and ethnicity beginning in the early 20th century. Interacting with the individualistic proclivities of White Europeans, these movements have been critical to overriding the biologically-based natural tendencies toward aggressive territoriality uncovered by Wrangham’s work.
However, Wrangham was one of the star performers in a tumultuous meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society at Amherst College in 2000. He presided over a forum devoted to discussing my work, described by Richard Faussette who witnessed the events. In my talk I stressed issues such as the maintenance of group boundaries that are so essential to Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy and central to Wrangham’s theory of chimpanzee behavior. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of my remarks (reprinted in Faussette’s article), Wrangham called for an ethics investigation into me and my work and asked me to condemn the use of my work by “right wing extremists” and “rabid anti-Semites.” I forget what my response was, but my usual response to that sort of thing is to state that anyone is free to use any scientist’s work. And a lot of these “extremists” and “anti-Semites” have legitimate concerns, whether or not they express them in a language suitable to an academic.
The sad reality is that even hard-headed evolutionary scientists become completely unable to grasp the reality of human competition as it exists in contemporary societies. The chimpanzee neighboring groups that are aggressively defending and trying to expand their borders are doubtless more closely related to each other than the millions of people swarming over the borders of all the countries of the West are related to the traditional White people who have dominated these countries for hundreds or even thousands of years. There are very large genetic distances among human groups compared to the distances between these chimpanzee neighbors–and hence an even greater evolutionary imperative for us to defend our territory against human invaders–Frank Salter’s concept of ethnic genetic interests. But for evolutionary scientists like Wrangham, these relatively large genetic distances suddenly become meaningless when they refer to human groups, and it becomes irrational or even evil to be concerned about the eclipse and displacement of one’s racial group as millions of unlike others pour over the border.
The pall of political correctness hangs over even the best-known evolutionary scientists. Another hostile member of the audience at Amherst was John Tooby of the University of California-Santa Barbara who is prominently associated with the evolutionary psychology movement — a movement that neatly avoids any consideration of traits like IQ or unpleasant issues like race differences in IQ and aggression. (See my “Evolutionary psychology: The really dangerous idea is that it is wrong.”) And then there’s Steven Pinker whom I characterize as having assumed “the Stephen Jay Gould Chair for Politically Correct Popularization of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard.
Once again, it’s obvious that the success of the left derives from having taken over the elite institutions of the society, particularly the media and the academic world. It is a triumph with a very large ethnic component at its core — both in the ethnic aggression of the Jewish-dominated intellectual movements that have seized the academic high ground and in the ethnic vulnerabilities of the Anglo-Saxons whom they displaced. The remnants of the WASP intellectual elite, like Wrangham, cower in fear of being ostracized while they watch the inexorable logic of evolution work against people like themselves. Certainly a chimpanzee would not be so stupid or cowardly.
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