A while ago Greg Cochran wrote a very insightful post, saying that older civilisations necessarily produce populations of cynical familial slackers, because the realities of warfare and human society mean that those more likely to fight for abstract ideals were killed off over the thousands of years of successive civilisations.
That’s why more recently civilised places like Germany or Japan are still more orderly than, say, Iraq or Egypt. Still the historical data is patchy, so many people refused to accept the theory. I however just found a piece of evidence for it.
Andrei Lankov is a Russian expert on North Korea, and he regularly writes about it in Asia Times. He being Russian he can afford to write about the reality of life in North Korea without falling in paroxisms of righteous rage like American writers. Turns out that life in North Korea has been changing rapidly, even before the death of Kim Jong Il. The famine of the middle 90s basically destroyed the old rationing economy, and trade (smuggling) with China have created a quite pervasive market economy, which the state is powerless to control. Following the Chinese and Russian example, instead of cracking down, the government officials are cashing on the new markets, and lately you can see functioning shops and restaurants on the streets of Pyongyang.
Lankov writes in his last article how bribery has made an appearance in North Korea, in such a big way that virtually all government employees take them.
Countless times this writer has asked a North Korean whether it is conceivable that a police officer or bureaucrat would refuse a bribe. My interlocutors always look at me with some bewilderment, since the question itself sounds strange – and recently a middle-aged woman, a market vendor, said: “Are they crazy? How else would they stay alive?”
You get the point. The government doesn’t give out rations anymore, and the market works on money. And the only way to get money is from bribes. But what about Socialism? The noble teachings of Marx and Lenin!! Surely the communist officialdom, brainwashed for decades into despising money and commerce, should show a righteous disdain to accepting money from capitalist dogs.
Minor officials were hit very hard by the crisis of the mid-1990s. Many of my North Korean friends have stated that during the famine of 1996-99, honest officials – those who sincerely believed in the official ideology, and operated strictly in accordance with rules – were usually among the first people to die. In most cases, their food rations were no longer delivered and, being loyal soldiers of the Great Leader, they did not want to involve themselves in any kind of illegal and immoral capitalist market activity. So a sorry fate awaited these true believers, and their colleagues learned a lot from their demise.
So you see how Natural Selection killed off the true believers in communism. Hey it’s the best example of eugenics I’ve read in some time. While I am on the record for arguing for stronger selection pressures for IQ, I think the dying off of magical thinkers is perhaps of even more benefit to society. Just think what would happen to all those honest anti-racist, disability deniers, feminists et al. when the shit hits the fan and the economy collapses.
Huxley thought that the future would worship Henry Ford. I can see shrines for Darwin though.