Monday, 17 January 2022

Iyer on inequality

In an equal society, both life-chances and reproductive outcomes are almost equal save for a small random variable. Clearly, the fact that most male lineages have gone extinct as have, to a lesser extent, female lineages associated with low economic gender dimorphism or division of labor and gains from trade, shows that material equality in early societies was associated with radically different reproductive outcomes. Conversely, social stratification of an extreme kind permitted hierarchically lower lineages to maintain, or even increase, their share of the total population. In other words, accepting inequality has always been an evolutionarily stable strategy for the vast majority of lineages. The alternative to ‘apartheid’ genetic diversity (which it is regret minimizing to conserve) is egalitarian demographic replacement. True, the maths involved in showing this is quite recent but this unthought known has been around since the beginning of time. Humans domesticated themselves to inequality to gain the same benefit that domesticated animals did. Hegel’s ‘master-slave’ dialectic should be recast as a case of Slaves out-reproducing the Herrenvolk. Egalitarian regimes- and Hitler’s was one such in that a Corporal supplanted a General- soon turn genocidal. The Mayflower passengers initially established an egalitarian society and only gave up on that type of foolishness when they began to starve. Indeed, the highly inegalitarian American, or Australian, rapidly displaced indigenous peoples. Native Americans constitute 1.7 per cent of the population. African-Americans are 13 percent. Slavery, it seems, was better than Freedom in the only sense that matters to Biology.

Sedentary populations have often been invaded by more egalitarian tribes. France is named for the Francs, Lombardy for the Lomabards, England for the Angles and so forth. An egalitarian ethic can transform internal economic competition into a drive to conquer and establish dominance of an uncompromising, utterly amoral, kind. However, unless this translates into increased specialization and division of labor- i.e. more social stratification and inequality of outcome- such dominance is fleeting. 

This is not to say, that we should meekly put up with extreme concentrations of wealth and power. Rather, by studying philosophy or anthropology or literary theory, we should write articles or blogposts while quietly murmuring ‘boo to the rich’ as we go about our mundane tasks as metaphorical catamites of the plutocracy. 

V.D Choothapadhyaya’s classic study of the indigenous tribes of West Hampstead has influenced a generation of imaginary scholars whose work is unfairly neglected by a Eurocentric Academia. To recover the voice of the subaltern we must first, as Gayatri Spivak says, problematize the catachresis of imbrication involved in listening for its echoes in her next book. This does not mean we can put off urgent ‘bottom-up’ reform- e.g defunding the police so narco-gangs can take over. More importantly, we must address issues of gender and identity without giving way to either a doctrinaire insistence that everything is socially constructed because this generates an essentializing biological backlash which is already contributing to an upsurge in recreational incontinence which has overflowed the Academy.

As Prof. Sterelny points out, intimacy and trust among foragers can keep ‘alphas’ in check. I have often spoken of this to foragers who however get angry and say they are actually Actuaries or Accountants and that they won’t French kiss each other so as to establish intimacy because this will do nothing to check the declining alphas of their stock portfolios. This just shows the level of ignorance that prevails in the so called 'City' of London. This is not to let the intelligentsia off the hook. If our Societies are unequal, it is because our Epistemic system is concerned with not a level playing field of Knowledge but  siloed hierarchies of Credentialism. Also anyone teaching a non-STEM subject is as stupid as shit. 

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