Primal Fears

Design or emergent system?

In my last post, Abortion Controversies are Big in Texas, I touched on a topic that deserves exposition. I briefly stated that gun rights are the political right’s mirror image of abortion for the political left. This is a meme that has been bouncing around in my head for some time now. Despite the popularity of social constructivist theories pertaining to gender, evolution has one thing to say most loudly on the topic: men evolved to protect families and women evolved to create families.

A gun represents a man’s ultimate ability to perform his ultimate purpose, an enhancement of his control over that purpose.

Reproductive control in all its forms represents a woman’s ultimate ability to perform her ultimate purpose, an enhancement of her control over that purpose. Recall that the careful selection of a male is such an important factor in many species from birds to spiders that that process alone drives the aesthetic qualities of their entire male gender.

Please leave offense taken at the statement that making babies is a woman’s ultimate evolutionary purpose at the door. If you did, you likely lack the self-awareness to have noticed that I just made the same point about men owning guns, which if taken too literally, is even more absurd. We’re talking about evolutionary forces that pull on us all, not about what you should and shouldn’t be allowed or expected to do. Lets continue.

Whether we like it or not, these purposes are what we all live for, even if it isn’t expressed in the way evolution directed toward. They’re our lowest level code, like breathing, getting hungry or sleeping. No human needs to be taught those things, they are intrinsic in our nature.

What then should we make of the fact that our political parties appear to have figured all this out? That the main threat each side uses to keep its voting base in line is that one of these means of control may be taken away, thus prodding our most primal fears by raising the specter of a threat to our most primal instincts?

Do you think that’s design or an emergent system?

It seems doubtful to me that anyone was intelligent enough to have planned for this. It seems more likely that as each party became more attuned to how to appeal to and control its base oppositionally to how the other side was, a kind of evolution took place, refining messaging and identity to match the messaging. Each side evolved to more closely match a kind of fundamental truth about the divide between the masculine and the feminine, and pitted them against each other instead of in cooperation.

This isn’t just speculation. Men and women are more politically divided then ever before, with women leaning sharply left, and men sharply right. And there are myriad more interesting ways that the political is currently divided along archetypal gender lines, from the left’s focus on sharing and fairness to the right’s focus on rugged individualism in matters economic, social and more.

But how it came about isn’t quite relevant. What is relevant is that the left and the right sides of the political aisle seem to have remarkably similar means of keeping their base from wandering far. Each functions as the sheepdog of the other. Step out of line, and the other guys will attack you where you fear it most, in the deepest part of your psychology. When Texas passed its new abortion laws, I saw my girlfriend react with almost visceral dread. It didn’t affect her, and likely would never, but this act tapped into something I’ve seen in other women as well when discussing the topic. These topics appear to be designed to make one dig one’s heels in by taking a topic considered non-negotiable and negotiating it, shutting off the mind from discussion.

Considering all this, I think this might have come into being coincidentally. But it being elevated to chief rallying cry of two parties that seem to be in a continuous but tragically deadlocked struggle for dominance, never seeming to gain on each other?

Well that’s a little too coincidental…