Friday, November 07, 2003


I often point out the evidence for a substantial hereditary component in Left/Right political orientation. Some of the latest evolutionary thinking is consistent with that. Note this comment about the Pleistocene origins of envy, one of the major motors of Leftist thought: "we are prone to envy, to feeling dispossessed or cheated by the mere fact that others own what we do not own. We view the very possession of desirable goods and resources on the part of others as somehow unfair or even immoral, and we will look for evidence allowing us to regard the rich as unworthy of their "luck" and possessions." So Leftism goes back in fact to our evolutionary origins in pre-history. That does not make it any less irrational in our day, though.

All that makes this comment even more relevant: "many capitalist thinkers underestimate the force of envy, and in this regard are far more naive than collectivists. Lenin never tired of stressing that his goal was to make class envy flare into revolutionary hatred.... Ludwig von Mises showed 31 years ago in The Anti-capitalistic Mentality that reason, evidence, and humaneness have about as much impact on public policy as an Oral Roberts sermon would have on Nietzsche. As too few contemporary economists do, Mises realized that for libertarian economists to have a practical as well as scholarly impact, they must understand the non-rational factors that breed hostility to capitalism.... " Mises went on to explain Leftism among academics on the basis of envy too.


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