Posts Tagged ‘r / K strategies’

Understanding r / K Strategies

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

The Right is obsessed with finding the root of our downfall, and it will be our doom if we let it continue. We are wondering how deeply the rot goes, which is another way of wondering out loud what we can trust in a wasteland of failed ideas, lies and corrupted institutions.

In my reading of history, the answer is simple: any time herd behavior takes over, which always happens, human institutions begin focusing more on unity than purpose, and through that lose unity, because focusing explicitly on unity causes us to concern ourselves with bribing and cajoling people to stay in line. That then empowers them to act in chaotic, selfish ways.

Our society hit this one hard simply because we were good. We rose above the rest, and beat all of the relatively simple challenges of early civilization, but that meant that we then encountered other challenges that were harder. We leveled up, and the new level boss is more of a beast machine than any of the others.

People keep looking for “automatic” reasons that we failed, all of which are essentially versions of, “well, that’s just how things happen, everything fails over time.” This attitude is an artifact of our time, where everyone is having a screaming tantrum in order to avoid seeing the truth:

This was a choice. We made a bad choice. It did not need to happen. We screwed up and wasted centuries and many lives.

There, I feel better now that I have gotten that out. I know the temptation to rationalize/justify is immense, and I am sympathetic to those caught in its grip, because who wants to face the fact that most of their lifetime is wasted on garbage, their society is thrown in the dungheap, and almost all recent achievements are landfill? But that is what equality does really well: destroy things.

Out there, everyone has someone to blame. The white nationalists blame Negroes and Jews; the Left-wing Jews blame the white nationalists; the poor blame the rich; the middle class blames the politicians; the politicians point out that the middle class voted for them, without complaint, for a hundred years. On and on it goes.

In fact, as written about on this site, what kills civilizations is the same thing that kills other human organizations: they focus on their members instead of their goals, creating entropy because each member, when encouraged to do so, will name something different that they want as a way of demonstrating that they are unique. This enables them to stand out from the crowd and socialize with others more effectively.

As Anonymous Conservative was kind enough to point out, this puts me and people who think like me at odds with most theories of our decline, including the notion that imbalance between r/K reproductive strategies is the origin.

In my view, the r/K strategy differences are inherent to humanity because of the way the standard distribution works. In any group of things, there will be variation of any given attribute that approximates a bell curve; for this reason, there will always be mostly r-strategy people in the lower castes, and K-strategy people will occupy the upper castes.

AC’s explanation of r/K strategies shows the deeper problem, however:

One microbe might find that other species of microbes would take their food, or even eat them, and these threats too, had to be dealt with through expenditures of energy, and the production of still other materials. The food available to them was limited in nature, and thus they would evolve complex machines designed to only digest a specific compound or compounds, to exploit a specific niche. They might even evolve to alter their metabolic processes, extracting energy less efficiently, but producing metabolites which killed their competition.

As a result, these organisms would spend a lot of the energy they consumed doing a myriad of things to survive, and this energy would, as a result, not go into reproducing. In nature, any microbe which did not have all of these adaptations would be quickly killed, and would be a Darwinian dead end. Thus those I isolated were programmed by eons of evolution to expend a lot of energy on a lot of complex efforts to keep themselves alive in their natural environment. As a result of all of this magnificent complexity, they grew quite slowly following their isolation.

On Tryptic Soy Agar, however, millions of cells would each grow freely, absent any selective pressure like that applied by nature. Invariably, a few would lose a gene here or there, which would disable some of these complex adaptations to their natural environment. These cells, now unburdened by these complexities, would channel all of their energy into reproducing their simpler descendents, and they would grow faster. Instead of preparing to fight off the microbial hordes, they would simply focus on converting substrate into new (simplistic) cells, thereby reproducing as quickly as possible. They would out-populate their more complex peers, and eventually become the defacto form of the isolate.

In many areas of life, and in the West since the Mongol invasions, the simple truth has been that whoever produces the most people will not be clobbered by his neighbors, and when it comes time to launch industry, he will have plenty of warm bodies to do that, too. This probably goes back even before agriculture, when warring bands ran at each other with swords and spears.

In fact, the history of Europe may be that of a roving band of people who avoided such behavior, and as a result were able to refine themselves to a higher degree of ability, even if that meant that they had to avoid conflict by remaining nomadic. When they settled in Europe, they became prosperous, and this allowed them to become bottom heavy with r-strategy people.

For many centuries, an aristocratic system kept this in check by relegating proles to subservient roles. After enduring many crises, including the Mongol invasions, the Black Plague, Islamic invasions, religious wars and the imperial wars following the rise of ancient Greece and Rome, the European aristocracy gradually began to fall behind in numbers.

Eventually, the mercantile middle class — people who were good at making money, but were not bright enough to foresee the problems with their desire for more — and the proles joined together and overthrew the aristocrats. Since then, our civilization has been in the final stages of decline.

My guess is that the decline began even earlier, after the end of the nomadic days, when the rise in fixed civilization essentially made the leaders beholden to spend most of their time taking care of the rest of the herd. This is the nature of any human group, and the only solution is to have a strong internal hierarchy, but that was weakened by crises.

If we make a bad decision, we can later stop doing that thing and then reverse it, and it is that for which I argue. Instead of seeing a two-stroke cycle by which society gets good and then inevitably fails, so that it is no one’s fault, and then society gets good again, I see that we made a bad choice and must resolve to never do that in the future.

Another view of this can be found through a view of population roles:

According to Eric Gans, the first human scene, upon which we can model later ones like that sketched above, is more precisely specified. Here we have a desirable object, presumably some food item, at the center of the not yet human group: these advanced, highly imitative apes, have their appetite for that central object inflamed, made into desire, by the awareness of the desire of all the other members of the group. This intensifying desire overrides the animal pecking order that normally maintains peace within the group—the alpha animal eats first, the beta animal eats when the alpha is finished, and so on. The alpha could never withstand the force of the group as a whole, but animals never “organize” themselves as cooperative, coordinating groups. Now, as all start to rush to the center, the animal hierarchy is abolished. What takes its place, according to the originary hypothesis, is the sign—what Gans calls the “aborted gesture of appropriation.”

…I’ve explored in a couple of recent posts the problems involved in the process of institutionalization. There’s nothing new here—in one of the commemorations I’ve read recently for the just deceased science fiction and military writer Jerry Pournelle, I’ve heard attributed to Pournelle the observation that in every institution there are those who are concerned with the primary function of the institution, and those concerned with the maintenance of the institution itself. Anyone who has ever worked in any institution knows how true this is, with the exception that plenty of institutions don’t even have anyone concerned with (or cognizant of) its primary function any more. Those concerned with the primary function should be making the most important decisions, but it will be those interested in institutional maintenance who will be most focused on and skilled at getting into the decision making positions. But someone has to be concerned with the maintenance of the institution—those absorbed in its primary function consider much of the work necessary for that maintenance tedious and compromising. (The man of action vs. the bureaucrat is one of popular culture’s favorite tropes—in more fair representations, we are shown that sometimes the bureaucrat is needed to get the man of action out of holes of his own digging.)

If we go back to the simple scene outlined in the beginning, we can see this is a difference between those who are first on the scene, and those who are second—for simplicity’s sake, we can just call them “firsts” and “seconds.” The seconds establish the guardrails around the firsts as the latter do their work, and they make for the “interface” between the firsts and those who gather around the scene (the “thirds”). They will also decide which resources get called for and which get through to the firsts, who are too busy to see to such details. There is no inherent conflict between the firsts, seconds and thirds, but there is the potential for all kinds of conflict. The firsts (and the first among the firsts) should rule, and should be interested in nothing more than enacting all the signs of deferral that have been collected through successive acts of rule. Even defense against external enemies is really a function of enhancing the readiness of the defenders of the community, and the community as a whole, and doing that is a function of eliminating all the distractions caused by desires and resentments, with the most attention dedicated to where it matters most. The seconds should be filtering information coming from below, marshalling resources, and transmitting commands and exhortations from the ruler. And the thirds, the vast majority of the community, should be modeling themselves on and ordering their lives in accord with the hierarchy constitutive of the community.

Like r/K strategy theory, this explains how people corrupt their own organizations, but not the cause. The fundamental cause is a failure of hierarchy, usually brought on by many sustained threats, and its replacement with an order based on social concerns, like what is popular and who wants to do what.

The West has avoided this realization for some time because it means that we are the source of our own failure, and that we must actually change in order to fix it, including rejecting the idea of equality. External “this just did it to us” theories make it easy for the individual to continue his path of hubris without accepting responsibility for the role of individualism in our decline.

r-Strategy Living Arises From Society Assuming Responsibility For Individuals

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

We have been writing about K and r strategies and their influence on politics for many years now, but recently, thanks mostly to The Anonymous Conservative blog, this idea has gained momentum.

Over at VDARE, Lance Welton attempts to deconstruct European pathological altruism using K/r strategy theory:

Race differences in ethnocentrism are almost certainly (partly) a matter of historical evolution to a different kind of environment.

…We all sit somewhere on this spectrum, relatively closer to r or K, and this is true of nations and races. In a highly unstable but plentiful environment, such as pathogen-rich Africa, more people adopt an r-strategy. They must live fast because they will die young and unpredictably. As such, they are evolved to invest their resources in sex and have as much sex with as many people as possible. They create weak social bonds, only develop small and unstable social groups, and are highly aggressive and impulsive. All of this is designed to be able to deal with sudden, violent problems.

As the environment becomes more stable, it reaches its carrying capacity for the species. This makes it harsher and more competitive. This results in a move towards a K-strategy. You live slowly because you can better predict the future, making investments in it worthwhile.

While undoubtedly there is a genetic basis for populations choosing an r-strategy, another possibility comes to mind: the nature of civilization itself converts groups from K-strategy to r-strategy by adopting a policy of universal exclusion, thus subsidizing those who would not naturally be welcome that society.

The primary challenge to civilization comes from externalization. This takes two forms; first, the habit of people to pass along the costs of their activity to the group, in the form of socialized cost; and second, the tendency of individuals to externalize their thinking process to ideology, economics, rules, laws, popular social notions and bureaucracy.

When a civilization decides to assume responsibility for subsidizing those who are not naturally included, it shifts from rewarding a K-strategy to encouraging an r-strategy. No longer does it matter whether or not you get anything right; what matters is that you get along with others, which means deference to whatever the herd is fascinated by or fears at that moment.

Equality is the forerunner of this mindset. Equality correlates to the demands of a rogue cell in a body. This cell wants to be able to act against the interests of the body as a whole organic entity, but still be able to participate in the wealth and power of that body. Individualists form groups, known as collectivists, who demand equality for all.

At the heart of the problem is socialization itself. When people make decisions socially, they are thinking in an r-strategy mindset instead of being focused on reality, purpose and meaning, which are K-strategy decisions. For this reason, civilizations die because they become individualistic, and through doing that, remove their K-strategy focus and revert to third world social order.

r / K Strategies

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

For many years, this blog has covered r/K strategies and their effect on societies. The grim fact is that this primal divide defines two basic approaches to life:

  • r strategy: breed chaotically, frequently, and invest little in offspring;
  • K strategy: breed deliberately, with partners for life, and invest a lot in the offspring.

The first we might see as the social strategy. Throw in your lot, and hope for the best, figuring that everyone has a place. The other sees that life is a zero-sum game because even if resources are not limited, leadership is, and hierarchy is needed; this requires investing more in the offspring so that higher quality, or depth of understanding, is always the goal.

That zero-sum approach works because of this:

“We found that involved and supportive parenting can completely override the effects of a genetic risk for substance abuse,” says study co-author Gene Brody, Regents Professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “It’s a very encouraging finding that shows the power of parenting.”

If you nurture your kids past their bad habits, they make it to the next generation, at which point the genetic split becomes obvious: one child goes for drug addiction, and the other does not, and that other is the one to create the next generation. The parents of these kids are unaware of their own problems with drug addiction, so pass on the trait, but this then ensures that their offspring are selected for absence of it.

The thing is that r / K strategies reflect a broader divide.

  • The solipsistic population tends toward doing what it wants, and allowing nature to decide. This represents the r side of the divide, and also natural extraverts: they are guided by what is going on around them, in theory, but what this means is that they are not internally making decisions about how to adapt to the world around them, but following its lead and allowing that to make their decisions for them. These are the ultimate rationalizers: instead of deciding what is a logical choice, they look at the choices conveniently available to them, choose one, and rationalize it as having been what they wanted all along. They are individualistic, and most populations in the third world are of this nature.
  • The realistic population tends to anticipate what the reaction by the broader world will be, and optimizes its behavior in response. It is reflective, or self analytical in the context of reality, where few others are. It seeks to adapt, instead of gratifying its immediate impulses and deferring the question of results to the external world. It is formed of will, or choices made in advance of outcomes, instead of rationalization, and so it aims in advance to have a clear idea of how to adapt and what it can possess within that range. This manifests not just in greater nurturing of children, but greater self-discipline and understanding of reality across the board. These people are intraverts: self-directed, but as a result, attentive to reality because they must understand it to realize their plan or purpose. This is the personality type which can build a society from nothing and raise it to greatness.

Some empirical evidence exists to suggest that this divide is innately recognized by human beings, with introverts being known for making more thoughtful, conservative decisions:

The new study of 81 men and 74 women found that men who thought they were more personally susceptible to contagious disease preferred introverted female faces over extraverted female faces. Likewise, women who thought they were more susceptible to disease preferred introverted male faces over extraverted male faces.

Extraverted or externally-directed people are individualists; their external direction allows them to avoid having to understand their world, so that in turn they may focus more on themselves. They are not people of the plan, but of impulses, and they are fascinated by their impulses and sensations to the point where understanding the world is an interruption that they resent. For this reason, they refuse to plan much if at all, and act on the basis of what they respond to, which are inner appetites and feelings. These sensations are the opposite of self-direction, which requires muting sensation in order to focus on goal and purpose, and to that end, to understand the world well enough to work within it. An extravert does that only to the degree required to satisfy his impulses.

For this reason, when results count, humans turn to introverts. Introverts also tend to be those who, being people of the plan, favor K strategies, or having fewer offspring but investing more in them through stable families and high parental time commitment. This requires sacrifice, both to keep a marriage together and to spend hours instructing a little blighter that does not yet have a fully grown nervous system, but pays off in that the descendants are oriented toward successful strategies in life. It is on this type of thinking that advanced civilization was built because this strategy alone produces a flow of high-intelligence people and is able to nurture genius.

When civilizations decline, it is through the production of extraverts through two mechanisms. First, the societies reward repeating methods of the past without understanding, which is a side-effect of the anonymity of an advancing society. Second, the improvements in food supply, health care and stability allow for those who could not survive outside of the society to become part of it, and by definition, they do not understand what is needed for civilization and become its unspoken enemies. A society geared toward survival will eject as many r strategy extraverts as possible, and nurture its K strategy intraverts as they are the backbone of its success and leadership.

With this in mind, we see a division in population:

  • Realists: K strategy, intraverted and geared toward first-world societies.
  • Individualists: r strategy, extraverted and geared toward third-world societies.

A society which is thriving chooses more of the former than the latter, or at the very least, gives them authority and allows them to keep the rest in line. Equality favors the latter group because by making a good result in the long-term equivalent to a short-term socially successful group, it favors the short-term because it is easier to produce and more popular.

When the West decides to get serious about resurrecting itself, it will do so by removing such incentives toward individualism. While individualism will always be more popular with any group, it is the death of civilization, which is why civilizations fail: they give in to what is socially convenient and in turn, make their realists miserable at which point they start dying out.

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