self interest v. collective interest -Reply -Reply

Wed Jul 19 15:56:33 MDT 1995

Lisa's reply below:

>>> Paul Cockshott <wpc at>  7/19/95, 09:48pm >>>
My reference to Kautsky and Dawkins was a hint that in considering
selective processes one should consider other self reproducing
information structures than DNA.

Ideologies are as much subject to selection as genes, the question
has to be asked is under what social environments will ideologies of
self sacrifice tend to undergo extended reproduction.
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Paul, Part of my gambit is to take darwin/dawkins' evolutionary
approach to behavior and see just how far it can go.  I think it is
important to distinguish between the implications of Darwinian
Selection [DS] and any concept of ideological selection, as I don't
think they work the same way.  I do expect DS to come to bear on
ideology in some way, and I do expect that behavior in the
ideological realm will be generally compatible with my view of
strategic, individual self-interest.  My approach would include
questions like:

What kind of ideology would self-interested individuals be likely to
invent? or promote or violate?
Why does anybody buy into ideology that is harmful to their own
darwinian interests?

Which may bring me to meet you at your last question, which is very

"[U]nder what social environments will ideologies of self sacrifice
tend to undergo extended reproduction"?

(I presume you mean by "extended reproduction" that the ideology is
spreading through a population or to other people, not only by
parents teaching offspring, but more widely and quickly than that.)

I offer some suggestions here:
When people want to try to get others to actually self-sacrifice,
while avoiding it themselves (a manipulative technique).
When those in power are promoting an idea, and can punish or reward
others for going along, at least in terms of lip service.
When actual behavior is not much altered by the ideology anyway.
When self-sacrifice by some really does help others, so others will
promote self-sacrifice.
When risky behavior is rewarded socially.

Anybody else?


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