Dawkins Says: Some Politics Are More Natural Than Others

Richard Dawkins’ series on Darwin (11/8/08. Channel 4) made the important point that nasty nature does not excuse nasty people or societies – something which all grown ups already knew. Evolution is no more an excuse for barbarism than, well, religion. The only appropriate response to those who condemn evolution on the grounds that Hitler was inspired by Darwin’s version of nature is the first rhetorical question of infancy:“And if Nature told you to put your finger in the fire?”
Except, of course that Hitler was not inspired by Darwin at all, but simply by the age-old technique of stock-breeding. If Hitler had understood the principle of Reciprocal Altruism which holds our complex society together and stops every post-office queue becoming a blood-bath, he would have been a much healthier person. Then he would have been ready for the revelation that the goal of evolution is merely change itself. It is the fear of change which is the real phobia at the heart of all anti-evolutionary propaganda. The morbid infantile need for the security of stasis.
Dawkins goes on to make the point that evolution has also been hijacked to justify the ruthlessness of capitalism. The delectable example of Enron was worth the hour alone, where Survival of the Fittest was perverted to The Mass-Suicide of The Ruthless. The selfish gene gains its objective by the dictum of You Scratch My Back – I’ll Scratch Yours not by Look After Number One. And on a social scale, by co-operation, not competition. The nurturing, social instinct is genetically programmed in normal healthy human beings, it is environment and misfortune which distorts and distracts this true nature. Right wing politics are therefore unnatural; created by and for these poor casualties of humanity, who, if their ideology was implemented, would be the first in line for compulsory sterilisation.
Reciprocal Altruism is just another way of saying socialism, the collective organisation of humanitarianism in the effort to deal with the immense, dangerous complexities of the industrial world.
Of course, as a liberal, Dawkins cannot understand this, yet. He confuses co-operation with charity, and romanticises liberal reformism. He shows that he understands society less than the evolutionary forces underlying it, not realising that social reciprocal altruism does not lead to soup kitchens, but to political and economic power.

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