self interest v. collective interest -Reply -Reply

Paul Cockshott wpc at
Thu Jul 20 21:44:19 MDT 1995

Lisa wrote

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?

I am not sure that the concept of 'self interest' is well defined
from the standpoint of population genetics.

If one is defining the self interest in genetic terms, the problem
is that the 'self' is not the unit of selection. The unit of selection
is the frequency of individual code sequences in the population
gene pool.

Given that any individual represents a randon and temporary
subset of these sequences, self interest is not well defined
in terms of selection. It seems as arbitrary as the notion
of 'species interest' which is now pretty discredited.

To my mind, the great advance made by Dawkins towards a
materialist theory of ideology lies in the proposal that a
similar disagregated approach be taken to the components of

Obviously, in neither case does such disaggregation imply
complete statistical independence, Kauffman's work on rugged
fitness landscapes is suggestive here. Thus in dealing with
religious ideologies, ideas of paradise and ideas of
martyrdom, mutually reinforce one anothers reproduction.

I feel that your presentation of how such ideologies spread
still has traces of a Voltairian idea of ideology as
deliberately spread false conciousness. This may have an
element of truth in it but does it really focus on the
actual process of selection?

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list