Many people have asked how we have gotten to the current political state of America. It is quite flamboyantly represented by President Trump, but he is really just a symptom rather than a cause. This isn't new. It has been this way all through history and many people have described how we got here from different points of view. It is what Machiavelli described so well. He also described the evil common to the pursuit of power and what good people need to do to protect themselves from those that misuse power. This description is different from that and probably different than others you might have seen because it comes from a study of biology. That's what I do. I'm very good at understanding survival strategies and instincts. This is a description of this political state as being a result of Darwinian drives. It isn't as interesting of a description as some but it has the benefit of being systematic, showing the root cause, describing the nature of its danger, and being predictive. It shows why the endless battle for power is a greater hazard than it has been in the past because civilization just keeps creating greater powers and yet those that pursue power are naturally in conflict with the more cooperative nature what humanity needs to maintain the civilization we depend on.
This is a trip down a rabbit hole to find the roots of the problem. My answers tend to end up at "because evolution made it so". Like any explanation, it is to provide an understanding. For some people, it will seem illuminating. For some people, not so much. The purpose though is to give a new way to look at the problem and to describe root causes. Recent events aren't a one-off thing and its cause needs to be understood as powerful, ancient forces that must be managed if human civilization is to survive and if humanity is to remain more than animals.
This is a description of power: its source, use, and misuse. This is about power in and between nations but it also applies to societies, families, businesses, or anywhere that competition can block needed cooperation that would usually work better than blind competition anyway. This is about gaining power by winning at any cost, even if the cost is civilization itself.
The economist Robert Reich wrote an article for the Guardian about how it seemed that one political party was quite good at winning elections but not good at governing, while the other political party was good at governing but not at winning elections. Truer words have rarely been spoken. One group creates power and one works to seize it.
So who are these two groups and what do they represent? One creates power. The other works to control it. For shorthand, call then the Creators and Controllers. This essay is to describe that the Creators are following the creative, cooperative human-created strategies of and necessary to civilization. The Controllers are following a blindly competitive, exploitive Darwinian strategy created by nature. This is the dichotomy of power. One creates power. One works to seize power. It plays out this way in everything created by civilization and it endangers the civilization we depend on for survival.
I read a post on social media that asked "after the time of Trump has passed, will you forgive them"? There's a problem with that. A common answer was "yes, but I won't forget". That's not going to work because they have no intention of ever forgiving you. If you look closely, this is a war. Right now it is a War on Liberals but it used to be called the Culture Wars. Before that, it was the war between Religion and Science with battles like the Scopes trial. In and out of that it has been called The Class War. Before that, it was just wars of kings, families, tribes, economic interests, religions, and warlords of every type vying for power, usually by violence. This war for power in civilization goes way back to when Socrates was convicted of impiety and corrupting the youth. It went well before that to when anyone challenged the traditional power structure. Forget forgiving them. Not only are they not going to forgive you but they will keep making war on you until they control you. You need to understand and remember that. It's about power and always has been. It is driven by our biological nature and the only way to prevent this problem is to understand it, watch for it, and use human tools such as philosophy and law that were created to prevent it. Without knowing why though, you won't even be able to do that. The problem is that the Controllers inherently endanger civilization because the destructive, inefficient Darwinian strategies that they use inherently work against the cooperation and investment that are essential to civilization. What has made it worse is that the interconnectedness of the modern world has morphed the competition for power into an ideology between those that want to control the power and those they want to control. Greater powers exist now than ever before and now control includes sophisticated propaganda and surveillance. The power cannot be left in the hands of the Controllers because there are ways that they can get an almost unbreakable hold on it. Their vested interests will be to prevent change to protect their power. Without change, the future of humanity is at risk. Humanity is transitioning from a tribal world where power was held by those following a Darwinian drive for it to a world of civilization where power must be held by those invested in the civilization.
Biology can provide a useful description that tells part of the story of power but the real authority might be Machiavelli. He described the ruthless, immoral drive for power of the ruling classes of Europe. His description though was of competition for power between "Princes", some immoral, some less so. Now the competition is between Princes, the self ordained aristocrats of wealth, weapons, and manipulators of the powers of civilization versus the people that make those powers. That means that the competition between the power of the people and those that would control them is different. Now, laws are used to define the power of government so the law must be protected and used to control those that would manipulate the society. For a long time and especially now, the law in American has been under attack at every level from regulatory capture to manipulation of tax laws, to packing the courts to using armies of lawyers to thwart the law. For civilization to flourish, the law must own the balance of power. We cannot forgive or forget those that have tried to seize the power of our civilization and society. We must take it back or we could lose it forever because that is what they will work for. This is not just a battle about law. There are other tools that have been developed to fight those that would seize power. Philosophy and many of the moral lessons taught by religions are tools for preventing and fighting tyranny. This is a moral struggle that cannot be won for very long by weapons. In this day and age what it is about is hearts and minds. Education strengthens those by teaching the importance of laws and teaching people to be able to tell truth from lies.
From here on, this rather long story is a description of power based on biology, anthropology, and history. Let me tell you the story of this war so you can know what you are up against. This war started many thousands of years ago.
In terms of history and even before, power has been about reproductive dominance. It still is but it has currently taken on a new form as an ideology. Still, the source is about dominance. That's pretty simple but it gets complicated because of another form of dominance that appears in social animals and that is status. Good old manly violence is common enough to be popular fodder for entertainment. It's about winning the female and can only go so far and be so complicated. Status is a more sophisticated dominance behavior. An anthropologist will tell you what a powerful driver of behavior status is as will any marketing professional. In its simplest form, status is who you have reproductive access to. No matter how good the tribal bunny hunter is, he's not going to get to make time with Chief Buffalo Strangler's daughter. He just doesn't have the status her family gives her. Status competition was a competition for good genes when genes are the only form of wealth. What status is changes when there are other forms of wealth. A territory is a great form of natural wealth. Beauty and money both bring similar status now. That's not all though. Power is now the highest form of status. Dominance is a part of status, that is power and that includes taking away other's power. It's not unusual in social animals for dominant or high-status females to prevent lower status females from having children or even killing their children. Now that is power. Battles for status were brutal. Tribal warfare, often about status, was merciless, especially towards men. As human society got more complicated, so did power and status, but until recently, reproduction is essentially what it was always about. There just weren't many forms of wealth and Rome demonstrated the limits of violence.
This is all based on my study of two things: nature and humanity. I study the laws of nature as described by Darwin and the laws of humanity as written in philosophy, government, law, religion and lore. I study the tribal world created by nature directed by Darwinian laws of nature. I study civilization created by humans and directed by human laws. If you wonder how much of a conflict there is between them recall that nature is well described as "red in tooth and claw". It is simple, sharp and brutal. It is too simple and blunt to sustain humans as more than animals and we have long aspired to be more. Nature operates primarily by endless, mindless competition rather than cooperation. (For a description of some of this mindless competition in our society, may I recommend "Self Made Man" by Norah Vincent.) Civilization only works based on a high level of cooperation. If humans primarily follow Darwinian laws we will inevitably destroy the civilization we depend on for survival and end our potential to be more than animals. We need to recognize and understand this conflict so that humanity can sustain a civilization and develop into more than animals. We are not in conflict with nature though. We must husband the natural world for our own benefit and basic survival but we must husband our humanity in ourselves and our civilization or we will be nothing more than smart walking monkeys and as savage as ground dwelling primates tend to be.
Consider it this way. Nature gives you instinctive strategies that operate very fast because they are related to survival and they are simple. In your life though, don't you strategically evaluate your options, possibilities, and possible outcomes when making decisions? Don't you do that to get the best possible results? Nature cannot do that and the strategies nature can create are much too simple to lead to good results for humanity.
To describe the biological history of this conflict between the Darwinian strategies of nature and the strategies created by humans, one could go back further to when humans last made a major change in their ecology. This is when humans entered tribal hunter-gather scavenger ecology based on bipedalism, exceptional eyesight, and tool use. This was the time of the fossil called "Lucy" about three million years ago and "humans" still had small brains then. We weren't well adapted to that new ecology and seem to have been struggling to survive. It drove the rapid evolution of the human brain and unusually cooperative social behavior that we can still see today. Humans struggled to survive and were often the favorite prey of large cats. Not only couldn't we fight each other. We had to help each other. We kept evolving, especially our minds. Then starting perhaps about 150,000 years ago it seems there was an evolutionary development of the parietal lobe and some real re-organization of the human brain. This created the modern human. We were no longer just hanging on. We dominated the environment and killed those pesky cats. We killed just about everything else and since we weren't in much danger of extinction we started killing each other. Violence was a fairly good strategy until it peaked with the Iron Age and the new ecology of civilization needed the older cooperative strategies we used when we were new at walking upright.
In history, this conflict in Western Civilization started in the Fertile Crescent maybe as long ago as 8000 years... Maybe even longer. What matters is that civilization was based on farming as opposed to the hunting and gathering of the tribal humans before them. These were a different people living in and adapting to a civilization that included the basic occupational castes including farmer, builders, scribe, and priest. C. D. Darlington said that it was three tribes that came together originally but all knowledge of those times continually develops. The Priests had the knowledge to direct the planting based on astronomy and they had the knowledge to direct the construction of the irrigation systems that the farming was dependant on. They and the scribes organized the society. The builders built the city and what other tools were required such as for farming. The farmers grew most of the food the civilization depended on. Hunting and gathering would still have provided much food as the farmed foods were often valuable as trade goods. There were some somewhat domesticated animals. This civilization was fairly stable and developed over thousands of years, leading to better farmers, better farming methods, and better crops. It always required cooperation, including between different peoples.
Civilization was actually a new ecology. It was a new niche for humans to survive in that didn't exist in nature. Farms and cities had to be built. It was a pretty amazing new ecology that even then could support about twenty times the population that a tribal ecology could support. It was based on strategies that humans created and that were qualitatively different than any strategies before or that nature could produce because they were based on complicated cooperation. Nature's competitive strategies can have some cooperation but nothing like was needed for a farming civilization. Darwinian strategies and cooperative strategies are just in conflict due to genetic factors. Nature and its strategies are selfish. This kind of cooperation was a new strategy and has been the key to human survival since we entered this new niche as it was for early bipedal humans. Those cooperative strategies developed into what we call laws, religions, philosophies, and science. This was a very new and different world than the tribal ecology that came before it. Civilization created great powers.
It seems that there are basically only a few kinds of power, or maybe categorizing them makes something simple enough to understand. The oldest human power was the creative power of nature. The next oldest human power was the power to kill. It is a power of nature that existed long before civilization. When used by natural selection it makes a species strong. As it is with powers, humans learned to use it for their own ends and to achieve control. It could even defeat the creative power of nature when used to slaughter other humans and whole species of animals. In some ways, how humans used death was different from how natural selection used it.
Civilization created new powers of economics, law, morality, faith, technology, philosophy, politics, ideology, and others. History best shows the development of those and the development of those that seized control of those powers.
Look towards the beginnings of Western civilization to see how this developed. I expect it is similar for the root civilizations of the Indus River and Yellow River but I haven't studied that history in detail. Western people have two common aspects of culture. We are all descended from both farmers and herders that had different natures. Yes, there were other civil castes such as builders, scribes, warriors, and priests but they were fewer. The civil populations did grow but we are still all descended one way or another from farmers and herders and that defines this war. I know that that doesn't look like much of an answer but ultimately it is a very important point to show the difference in strategies and who uses them. The herders embodied the competitive Darwinian strategies and the farmers embodied the cooperative, creative principles and strategies of civilization. The challenge for the farmers was the earth, weather, and vagaries of nature. The greatest challenge for herders was other humans. The conflict that plays out today is the same one that originated between the Darwinian strategy of herders and the human originated strategies of the farmers and civilization. This conflict was first visible in ancient times when the herders returned their flocks to the pastures they had always visited and the farmers claimed it as their own because they were farming it. I'm told that saying this is a conflict between herders and farmers is a non-starter but in terms of civilization it is where it started, how it played out in history, and in terms of instinct and strategy it is correct. I think it is easier to understand if you look at a simple starting point like that. Historically the important event was many years later when the Semitic goat and sheep herders led by Sargon the Great conquered the Sumerian civilizations of the Fertile Crescent. They replaced the priestly caste as the rulers of civilization. Later it was the Indo-European horse herders that conquered the Middle East and Mediterranean civilizations, replacing the Semitic ruling caste. They were known as the Greeks, Dorians, Ionians, Romans, and others. Herders were successful as warriors because they were used to defending their own flocks and raiding each others. Until very recently, warfare was primarily conducted on horseback. In a sense, the herding peoples were of civilization but never really needed to adapt to it. They were mobile. Civilization is not. If you consider the Mongols, their conquests were from Mongolia to the Middle East and Europe but they were never part of civilization. Herders lived a more Darwinian life. War was cooperative but was about individual glory and spoils. The farmers had to be cooperative and creative, adapting to a changing way of life as part of civilization. Their irrigation projects and planning of the planting had to be led by the priestly class of the civilization. They needed a longer-term perspective to build a civilization. The controllers may be immoral in terms of civilization but they are not immoral from their perspective. It works for them even if it is a short term strategy because that is how the strategies of nature work.
Really, that is what matters because it is not herders that hold the power today, but it is their strategic descendants. The form of this battle repeated in the American West between the Cattlemen and the Sodbusters. Arguably the American Civil War was another skirmish in this war between the "herders" of slaves and the farmers (and builders) of the Northern civil society. Describing the herders puts a historic face on the strategy, but the strategy seems to have a life of its own like a meme. It has become an ideology. It isn't herders using the strategy now but individuals and institutions following an ideology. It wouldn't be surprising that "machines", including corporations and political parties, would incorporate Darwinian strategies. It might be inevitable. Competition can be strategic and productive.
Examine the powers created by civilization and see how they develop. In every case, they are to fulfill human needs. That makes them important and so they represent a power. Then the "Controllers" seize that power... "because they are better at getting elected" and also because they desire power due to Darwinian drive. Then the institution that served the society becomes its controller and exploiter yet its function is still needed by the society. The problem is not the institution but those controlling it and the Darwinian strategies they use. So what are the powers created by civilization that the Controllers want to control? It's a fluid list but could probably be covered by including military, economic, technical, and religious or moral institutions.
Religion is a power older than civilization but it developed more for a more complex society. Religion is many things. Some people think it is good. Some people think it is bad. Why such a difference? Why does anyone care? Religion is incredibly important because its basic function is to husband morality. It is to preserve a people and teach the lessons of survival that have worked for that people. It gets great power from people's moral instincts that cause them to seek out and protect moral strategies. It is what communities were organized around to keep their identities when multiple tribes came to live together in civilizations. It had leadership that could work to resolve conflicts between those tribal groups that existed together in civilization. That leadership could resolve conflicts that tore families apart. The Gods of religions were the human faces of peoples and moral principles. The concept of God has gotten so strangely distorted that I won't even bother to mention it in the context of religion, though these days many people think that that is all that religion is about. Morality is what religion is really about. It still is about morality because that is a human need but what we see is the power of it that was layered over it. Like religion, the Gods changed from a benign symbol to a power that could be used for control. For many people though, the spirituality of it was never lost. The lore, that is the truths that are never lost in time, is that religion is about people. Not about popes and priests. It is about marriage, birth, family, life, and death. Isn't that important enough to be a great power even without a God? No matter what your beliefs, you know religious people that you respect for their basic goodness. Consider Jimmy Carter as an example. He was just a good man that helped others and never exploited anyone. Now think of all the blood let in the name of religion. Think of all the greed associated with religion. There are two different aspects of religion. One is a mechanism for the survival of families, communities, and society. One is about power. They are different things. Compare Jimmy Carter to Jimmy Swaggart. Understand the difference and the relationship of each to religion.
Think about tools, a mark of humanity. Early humans developed tools to get food and for protection. When humanity was new and adapting to the new ecology of walking, they were in too precarious of a position to fight each other. The challenge of nature was too great. Conflict could destroy the tribe. That changed when humans started to become the dominant animal in the ecology perhaps 150,000 years ago. Tools began to be used for power. Civilization amplified that and created better tools including those made of metals. The military has always pushed technological development but most of that has been replaced again and again over time, always to accomplish the same task. At the same time, farming techniques, building techniques, cooking, law, philosophy, science, and other creative technologies have built upon themselves and grown as civilization has. Always though, this great power has been seized by the "Controllers". They rarely focused much energy on serving civilization. They served themselves though they might husband civilization as property or as a source of other powers.
Think about the economic wealth of civilization created by the people, technology, and science of the society. The commonest lot in history has been to "live lives of quiet desperation" while the Controllers used the wealth for their purposes which were Darwinian driven competitions for status and power. Many individuals created great wealth and held it for their lives but it was always coveted by the Controllers for the power it gave. The desire for power is the elusive source of the worst kind of greed. Greed is the desire for wealth and it may only be that. Many people want wealth and some create it while most just accumulate existing wealth. Investment is a powerful strategy. The problem is when greed is a desire for wealth for the power that wealth gives. The limitlessness of that kind of greed can only be explained by Darwinian inspired madness and that is the characteristic of Darwinian strategy. It is blunt, stupid and there is no off switch. Over and over it has led to the exploitation of natural resources to destruction. In the pursuit of wealth, those following Darwinian strategy will starve all others not just to increase their own wealth but also to rob all others of their power. Over and over history is made when the overreach and greed of the ruling class has beggared those that create the wealth of the civilization. Some were stupid enough to fool themselves about their roles and said "if they have no bread, let them eat cake". Others said it was God's will, perverting a good institution. Others said, "we'll do what we have always done and kill them if they resist". The modern method of control is to lie and use ideology to weaken the people and turn them against each other. It's all about power.
Here again there is a dichotomy of belief and strategy. The Darwinian drive is to hoard wealth and power for the family and tribe. Many people in civilization have a different concept of wealth. They have a great ability to create wealth by human creativity (say Elon Musk) or by investment (say Warren Buffet) or by being in the right place (say Bill Gates). They recognize that they are part of the civilization that created the wealth and that the wealth is part of the civilization. The problem is well known that private fortunes usually are soon transferred to the machinery of lawyers, accountants, and trusts that have little benefit to society or the descendants of those that created the wealth. The money can be transmitted to descendants but not the creativity or the strategy that created the wealth. In fact, it often weakens them and so that the wealth is squandered by attempts to safely preserve it. By the third generation, the wealth and strategy are gone. Wealth is a facet of the ecology of civilization. It needs to be recycled just like the leaves in a forest are recycled. An inheritance that can benefit children is a great thing. Trying to preserve great fortunes is a waste of time and resources and can actually be a hazard to individuals and civilization. Many wealthy people figure that out and put their money back into the society and culture. Civilization needs to support the creative individuals and help them create wealth but the wealth needs to serve their descendants or the society rather than just being hoarded with the predictable problems of tribal strategies in the modern world. Static wealth just disappears. Working wealth grows. Wealth also must not be created at a huge cost to the society and the commons as it often has been in the past.
In history, peace has often been made by marriage. The conquering herder tribe "married" into the ruling classes of the civilization. That was a primary "spoils of war". Warring families married to make peace and increase their power. Competition in all ruling classes is sharp and the only ones that survived were the smart ones that could lead and organize society. The ruling classes took on the Darwinian strategies of the herders or perhaps the herders absorbed the cooperative strategies of the peoples of civilization. It was both but history is the story of a leadership class with extreme Darwinian instincts for competition, filling human history with the stories of war and conflict. In the Iron Age, it was tribal nations that fought wars and it was more closely related to survival. Later they made civilizations fight which wasn't really a dominant natural component in the nature of the civil peoples who were the Creators. Farmers, builders, scribes and priests have little use for or benefit from war. The Controllers and warriors did. After the Iron Age, the tribal world was largely gone but the wars of civilization were still Darwinian. The Controllers used the resources of the Creators of civilizations to fight their wars for Control that rarely benefited the Creators. Many bloody, destructive wars of history were known to originate fundamentally as family spats for power in the ruling class. They took gambles leading to war and might win big but the civilization they led into war always suffered and rarely benefited. The cooperation of civilization is inherently a win-win strategy. The Darwinian strategies of the Controllers are inherently win-lose as well as being blindly exploitive. It is mirrored in the behavior of commercial harvesting of wild crops. There is no off switch and the crop is normally harvested to destruction. That is how they will treat civilization.
You do have to be careful not to become an armchair historian making moral and strategic judgments of the events of history. The Military ruling classes did build civilization. Militaries have always driven technological development. The disruption of wars prevented natural stagnation. The Controllers did organize and lead the society. History is a horror story but it is how we got here and we are strong. We are all descended from those warriors. The question is whether this pattern can continue or perhaps even what variation of it is desirable? In general, the differences between the ecologies of the past and the future are great enough to suggest that there has to be significant strategic change. That is what happened when Rome fell. An alternative to unproductive violence was needed. You can see it later in more modern politics. We don't have kings anymore and it was more because of the problems with the kings than the superiority of the Democracy. Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest... that are about power. It looks like the same will be true of the royalty of wealth as well. Greed can lead to productivity but ultimately it leads to greater destruction than creation.
Another useful description of the two strategies and their incompatibility might be in the Bible. The old Testament is the story of a brutal strategy for a harsh time written by Semitic herding peoples. The New Testament is a strategy for a people trying to make their way in a cosmopolitan, internationally connected, city-based civilization that emphasizes cooperation and non-violence. In general, there really aren't a lot of other strategies for humans to use. The Bible says that the two strategies are basically incompatible and that the laws of the New Testament replaced the Old Testament.
Laws have always been powerful tools for civilization but never before have laws been so important because now nations are created as legal compacts. Lawyers play the roles of warriors fighting for their patrons in court. Laws are such that they can create multi-generational institutions like royal families. That can represent great powers. Economic power is often used to manipulate the law, often to increase one's wealth and the power of that wealth. It is often cheaper to buy laws than to pay for breaking them or to pay taxes which are the price of civilization. That is a case of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs because most real wealth is a product of civilization and they endanger that.
The United States is particularly Darwinian. It has great natural wealth and it was positioned to create the great fortunes that were characteristic of the industrial age as the nation was being built. The great personal fortunes started to be created about the time of the American Civil War and came to represent great powers that are powerful actors in our nation today. One of the earliest was created by J. P. Morgan who sold rifles to the Union army. Like the railroads, much of this wealth originated in western mines. The growing country supported rapid industrialization that created more fortunes that promoted technological development that created more fortunes. These fortunes often were in conflict with the working class that created the wealth and battles were fought between the nation and financial entities such as monopolies and trusts. There was a lot of wealth to go around but the Controllers did a pretty good job of hoarding power and wealth, precipitating social crises addressed in the times of both President Roosevelts. Franklin Roosevelt was from the ruling class and much of the reason he created the New Deal was to prevent a revolution by the working class from occurring due to the excesses of those in power. This problem quieted during WWII, but the cold war amplified the individualist versus collective strategies. Part of the response to the cold war was a practical political anti-collectivist ideology of the government. This was matched by an individual one as well. The governmental response might have been represented by the cold war but there were immediate attempts to grab political power by the likes of Joe McCarthy. The non-governmental attempts to control the society were by the likes of the John Birch Society.
After WWI and WWII that marked the end of the various monarchies and their dominance of power is when you really see the rise of modern ideologies to fill the power vacuums. In ways, ideologies were like umbrella organizations. You had the many ruling families of royalty but they all claimed that their authority came from God and as much as they might fight each other, they would fight together to protect that claim. That was essentially an ideology but different than modern ones. Now there are more and different powers in a society but again those that desire power work to control them all and they will work together to protect their ideology of control. While the Controllers of wealth, politics, religion, and war may compete for power, they learned to unite in their ideology of Control. Then they will work together like the different "kings" worked to protect their power based on divine right. That is an ideology. With the Enlightenment, the political authority was questioned and the Rationalists tried to come up with a new source of governmental authority. John Locke is best known for saying that governmental authority had to be based on the consent of the governed. That was a new ideology in conflict with thousands of years of rule based on power and divine authority. That concept was a foundation of the first modern democracy, The United States of America. The majority of the Constitutions of Democracies in the world derive from the American Constitution that famously begins with the words: "We The People". Others inherit from French democratic principles that have the same foundation. This has been a long process. The conflict between these ideologies have played out as history. The conflict has had many names and battles. A government might call itself democratic, socialist, a republic, or many other things but the authority can only come from one of those two sources, power or consent. Ruling classes have generally done a good job because if they didn't they were replaced such as in mid 20th century China. Troubles came when the power had to be transferred or if they got too successful and couldn't easily be replaced such as Czarist Russia. Then you have political and social chaos that is fertile ground for others seeking power. There will always though be a conflict between the two ideologies because the Darwinian drive for power resists any compromise or share of power, especially with those that do not follow the ideology of power. Those who seek to control power will always seek to weaken all others that even might compete with them for power.
No matter what name is put on a government, it is about power. There may be a balance between the people and those that are driven to power and control, but the Darwinian drive for power and dominance never ends. Now that competition plays out between ideologies but perhaps the best name is the "Class War".
Neither Capitalism or Collectivism is a form of government. Government is either by a ruling class whose authority comes from some form of power to control or you have a government with power coming from the consent of the governed. Even then it is about power because in a real democracy there are those that don't agree but the democratic agreement is that they will go along with the majority or be considered outlaws. As far as Locke was concerned, liberty was about freedom of thought more than freedom of action. How then could the ideology of democracy deal with the ideal of those that would rule by power? Sometimes it was by law and sometimes by waiting. The People have greater power than those driven by Darwinian instincts. Those driven by Darwinian instinct tend to turn on each other as well. That drive and ideology contain the seeds of its own destruction.
Democracy is difficult and requires complicated agreements and laws respected by the people that desire to choose who shall govern them. Karl Marx came up with a simpler form of self-governance based on a lot of assumptions that didn't work out. The first two Communist revolutions only worked at all because the ruling class was so abusive as in Russia or where there was no strong authority to oppose the communists such as in China. In neither case did the governed have much say about how they were governed. Lenin and Stalin set pretty high standards of violence based authoritarianism. The ruling class changed but their authority still came from power. Seriously, is the Democratic Republic of North Korea anything but a monarchy?
There were many skirmishes between the ideology of this nation as described in the Constitution as belonging to The People and those seeking the power the society of the nation created and represented. Because of the great modern power of economics, there seems to be a class war developing based on Libertarian ideology. The first skirmish in the recent engagement was when President Reagan cut the top tax brackets and started the modern National Debt. The PayGo spending policy had meant that for new government spending bills, the source of the funds had to be specified. Ronald Reagan started the era of tax cuts without saying what would replace the lost revenue. It was claimed that "trickle-down" would pay for the tax cuts. This was the start of a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. At the same time, right-wing media was pounding out Libertarian ideology in the name of Conservatism. Partly it was real ideology but it was becoming more and more that the wealthy had figured out that it was cheaper to support conservative propaganda, pay tax lawyers and buy legislation than it was to pay taxes on their great wealth. Since the National Debt was public, that took power from the working class.
Another great political skirmish for political power came in 1997. Interestingly, Newt Gingrich is an admirer of biology. The lore is that he thought that biological systems should be applied to the US Government. He groomed a group of Congressmen and trained them in Darwinian strategies of win-lose, refusing any compromise that is described in human law. It was a great strategy for gaining power which the Republican Party did. It seemed very bad at governing though. It led to the "Party of No" and the Tea Party of chaos.
Mr. Gingrich had brought the Law of the Jungle to an institution of human law and human law, the Constitution, took a beating. The main descriptions of Congress have been gridlock and ineffectual. Since then, the law has been primarily used to cut taxes on the wealthy and otherwise consolidate power for the powerful. Again, objectively speaking this might or might not be a good or a bad thing, but the Darwinian principle behind it means that there is no end or limit to it and they seem quite bad at governing. That is bad. The power will continue to accumulate and the citizens, whether called the middle class or the working class, will lose money and power while lacking the good leadership that is critically needed now.
By the time of the Tea Party, the Libertarian sponsors were quite visible. Enormous amounts of money were systematically used to create a Libertarian infrastructure in numerous educational, cultural, and other social institutions. Libertarian think tanks generated propaganda, policies, political strategies, and candidate suggestions for more mainstream political races that mainstream conservatives didn't have resources to produce. Right-wing media in radio and TV such as Fox News, profitably churned out propaganda teaching hate and fear of liberals. Theirs was an emotional message appealing to the drug of anger, fear of change, and indignation about being ignored by elites. That is the modern way to compete for power. They took advantage of all the pains that rapid modern change created and blamed it on the liberals. It wasn't the liberals that threatened them but those fears brought out moral and survival instincts. At the same time, the Left foolishly appealed to identity politics instead of appealing to the large working and middle class whose power had been taken. While the Left just didn't even think much about power, the Right carefully explored what topics would trigger fears. Abortion, pedophilia, race, threats of gun confiscation, and even satanism were found to get traction but it was especially indignation at being ignored by coastal elites that got rural blood to boil. Conspiracy theories were cheap and plentiful. The transfer of wealth continued as the National Debt climbed due to tax cuts and bad policies such as the second Iraqi War and deregulation that led to the Great Recession starting in late 2007. The right could win the Presidency but were terrible at governing.
Then there was the reaction. President Obama apparently scared a lot of the traditional power structure. Three decades of Anti-HRC propaganda worked great. Mr. Trump ran a populist campaign claiming he would fix everything but mostly just listed enemies and what he would do to them. Those that listened to the fear mongers were glad to hear who their enemies were. The nomination of Mr. Trump displayed the complete takeover of the Republican party by those seeking power for Control. Intentional or not, Mr. Comey exhibited masterful timing. Mr. Trump won in the electoral college. Now we get to see how power has always been done by a master of Darwinian strategy. Human law goes first. Mr. Trump has never hidden his contempt for the law. Now, it is simply a convenient tool to forward his agenda and attack his enemies. Funny thing, his chief strategist is Mr. Gingrich. His policies and judicial nominees are provided by Libertarian think tanks. He isn't just ripping the law and environment apart, he is attacking the very concept of truth itself. Sure, he's making good money off it, but it's really about power.
One surprising thing is how much help Mr. Trump has gotten from the Senate. The House did its job of charging the President for his behaviors but the Senate didn't even consider the charges. Maybe it was fear of Mr. Trump's retaliation but considering recent history it was more a display that those seeking to control power had taken control of the Republican party. It seemed a surprise what Mitch McConnell was willing to do for partisan power but his history is about seeking power. The Senate has been corrupted into seeking power instead of serving the nation as the institution was created to do. That is the power of ideology. The conservatives have long worked to Control the power of the courts because they know that their policies are unpopular. Mitch McConnell did a great job of blocking President Obama from making judicial appointments. Then when Mr. Trump became President he started a production line creating federal judges, largely based on recommendations from the Heritage Foundation. Then McConnell gave a master class in grabbing power with the successful nomination of Neil Gorsuch by basically stealing the appointment from President Obama. At the same time, he has prevented the consideration of almost every bill passed by the House. It does qualify as poor governance but very good as an effort at destroying human law.
So, where is this going to go? In November we will learn more but keep in mind that this conflict is far bigger than Mr. Trump. Warren Buffet said: "we are in a class war and my class is winning". The current conflict is probably best described as a class war but it's bigger than that as well. It is about preserving the vested powers created by the great wealth that American and Western civilization has generated in the past few centuries of colonialism and industry. It is still a continuation of their ancient battle for power. It is a moral battle. Even if Mr. Trump wins it seems likely that the forces of history that replaced the kings will eventually prevail, but it could be very bad for civilization in the meantime. At the same time, technology development allows the controllers to extend their control both by giving them a more controllable power and by offering methods to manipulate society and the information society receives. That is what the Heritage Foundation works for, unbreakable power by propaganda and manipulation of laws. Mr. Trump has all the appearance of wanting to become a modern autocrat like Russian President Putin that he openly admires. He has some amazing levers of power available to achieve that.
Mr. Trump represents not just the desire for power that is the strategy of the herders, but also the belief that it is their right by Darwinian victory. As Darwinian principles dictate, right and wrong are defined by success or failure. Whoever dies or loses is a victim of evolution. Might makes right is a Darwinian principle and incompatible with the human invention called civilization but to them, it seems moral. It is moral, the moral strategy of the tribe but not a moral strategy that will support a civilization. You can have human law or Darwinian law. You can have the Constitution or the Law of the Jungle. Noticeably there is no natural second place in Darwinian conflict and the conservatives that have created modern politics don't consider compromise anything but a weakness. Constitutional law is an inconvenience and impediment to their power as is science and critical thinking. Their strategy will not support a civilization and civilization is the ecology that replaced the tribal ecology we left when we created the farms and cities of civilization. It is our life support system but the herders don't instinctively think that way. Herders tend to consider farmers and their modern equivalents to be slaves to their work. Civilization does not occur in nature. It is created. Their strategies of violence will damage or destroy civilization. Look what the Mongols did. They absolutely destroyed city after city and even some civilizations. They destroyed the Islamic civilization in 1258. They had no use for civilization. Herders only even tolerate civilization when they rule it. It's not so much that Mr. Trump is lawless. It is that he follows Darwinian law.
So what is working against him to prevent that? First off is Mr. Trump himself. He doesn't have the skill or discipline to pull off a project like that even with the great levers of power that the Presidency gives him. Like him or not, Putin is brilliant. Like him or not, Hitler survived the crucible of WWI. Mr. Trump avoided syphilis and ran a bunch of businesses into the ground. He loses when confronted by reality and his alternate truths will only take him so far in the face of realities like the COVID virus and Global Climate Change. Only an extremely wealthy nation could so far shrug off his mismanagement but America is still going to get hurt by it beyond the many thousands of lives needlessly lost. Climate change will get more obvious every year and there will be more viruses. There is another obscure issue related to genetics that will present another existential threat that Darwinian strategies will not be able to manage. Reality itself is Mr. Trump's enemy. His worst crime may be the harm he has done to respect for truth but it isn't something he can change no matter how hard he tries.
Another thing that will always work against him is the very Darwinism drives that are his great tool. He must surround himself with others willing to follow that strategy and the mindless competition means that they are all going to fight each other. The infighting of his administration is astonishing. It is also astonishing that he can find any more people with the nature to join his administration but power does attract many people. A certain type of people. Ideologically driven candidates are also provided by the Libertarian infrastructure. They may be more dangerous than those driven by a simpler desire for power. Still, not surprisingly he has had to greatly rely on family members. It has not added much of value to his own limited competency.
... Ideology helps Mr. Trump but... Another big problem he faces is shown by the Republicans opposed to him. Mr. Trump may be sort of normal in Darwinian terms and he has ridden a populism fueled by right-wing propaganda while massive world and social change have caused widespread dissatisfaction. He was able to turn that propaganda and dissatisfaction into votes. Still, he has added the traditional Conservative establishment to his large list of enemies and the more he profanes the Presidency and the "Republican" party in the eyes of traditional conservatives, the more the danger that the Senate will actually turn on him. So many find it unbelievable that they haven't already but the Republicans have always been good at forcing discipline. They get in line. Organization has always been the Controller's greatest strength. Between the danger of retaliation by Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell's Senate leadership, they haven't broken ranks, but you have to wonder if that can last. Mr. Trump accumulates enemies but does not add friends. The more success he has at grabbing power the more he will alarm those that have fought for freedom. The United States is a poor place to try to have an autocracy or kleptocracy. An autocrat must attack and consume other powers. That could make the Senate his next target. If this is a class war, the next people he would go after are those that have the wealth that have supported libertarian ideals the conservatives have used since Mr. Gingrich's efforts. Putin demonstrated how to bring the oligarchs to heel once he controlled the government and law.
Libertarian philosophy is anti-statist. In the terms we are seeing, that seems to also end up being anti-civilization. If a primary motivation of current Libertarianism is the avoidance of paying taxes as current legislative history suggests, that is another problem because taxes are the price of civilization. It's rather short-sighted as well because obviously, all great modern fortunes derive from features of civilization. Mr. Trump does not create wealth of any kind. His habits were learned from his father. His style of leadership was learned from another group of New Yorkers. You can't have a functioning civilization with that kind of leadership.
A few years ago there was a recognition of the problem of wealth inequality that had largely come about because of the manipulation of law but also because of the inherent utility of wealth to create more wealth. Machines have become more efficient. At the time there was a recognition of the problem and since then it is recognized that the wealth disparity is accelerating. Objectively speaking it is not considered maintainable. Subjectively speaking there is a shrinking middle class. Vacations are often a thing of the past. Education is a necessary but extreme expense. A medical problem can and does destroy families financially. Housing is extremely expensive and ownership of much of it is shifting into the upper financial loop as an investment target where it is inaccessible to the middle class. Much of marketing has shifted from the mass market of the middle-class consumer to a large class of the extremely wealthy. The power of law is used to maintain that wealth.
The real point of this is that it is not a sustainable state. Capitalism worked great but then power in various forms was used to capture regulation and law. Tax law was manipulated in the name of "trickle-down" that transferred trillions of dollars from the working class to the wealthy. Is something going to stop this? Usually, the answer to that would be that the solution has to be political but still maybe, maybe not. What will not change is the Darwinian drive for power. We've seen how this turned out in the past. There will be a revolution, either "colored" or Darwinian red. What is to be done?
First, clarify a couple of terms starting with Capitalism. Capitalism is the use of capital as a tool for productivity. It's called investment. All governments and institutions use that whether democracy, monarchy, socialism, or none of the above. It is an economic system based on investment that has worked pretty well for creating wealth. In the US and the West, "Capitalism" is also the name given to the ownership system maintained by the power of law. It is the economic tool used by the Controllers to maintain their power. If you look at the charters of corporations in the past, they all recognize that they are created to supply a need. They often even included explicit warnings to not let the power of the corporation get controlled by those attracted to that power. The power of a corporation was to fulfill a need of the society. They considered themselves to be community and national citizens with responsibilities to the society. But corporations, like other powers will attract people that want the power to serve them and they will remake the corporation into a Darwinian thing that uses Darwinian strategies. Ideology has changed things to where too often it is taught that the purpose of the corporation is to make the shareholders wealthy rather than serve the society or even to fulfill the need that they were created for. This is how Darwinian systems work. Like money, they never sleep.
There is a loose end to mention. That is why would anyone support people that are trying to control them? Years back, a reporter asked a Palestinian why they followed Yassir Arafat when his wife lived quite well in Paris and he seemed much more interested in taking care of himself than in taking care of the Palestinian people. His reply was "but he is our sheik". If you think of it in terms of anthropology it makes sense. Leadership then and now is so important to a People's survival. I think in the modern world that we may forget this some because our leadership has become institutionalized within a framework of law that is the Constitution. It's still true though. A nation with great laws and strong institutions still needs good leaders to be able to thrive. This was more true in a tribal society. They were so dependent on their leadership that it would be surprising if there wasn't a strong instinctive drive to follow that leader just as we can easily see strong innate drives to seek out and protect moral systems. People have gone to war for them over and over. It seems unbelievable that in this day and age someone who seems like a living contradiction to our moral heritage could find followers, but in the past survival has depended on leadership by a "strongman". Their followers do not judge them by normal moral standards. All through history, including recent history, we see this happen whether Jim Jones or Adolf Hitler, humanity is susceptible to manipulation of our fears, prejudices, and instincts. Again, the same tools of philosophy and the lessons of religions are the only way to fight this. The people of civilization must fight back.
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How can civilization fight back against these powers? It can only fight back so much by the strategies Machiavelli taught of fighting ruthlessness with ruthlessness. Civilization has to fight back by its strategies and moral rules. It works by education. All social and professional organizations have traditionally had moral education as a foundation whether it was 4-h, Elks, Masons, scouts, school sports teams, ect. It was easier when fighting for God and country but in this existentialist age, we have to fight for the future of humanity and the civilization that is our life support system. Power is something that civilization creates and it can be used for creation as wealth can be used for investment. Civilization also has a power that comes from people. That why democracy and civilization go together. Civilization does need to use that power to take power from those that would misuse the powers that civilization creates. It used to be that even corporate charters included moral statements that recognized the danger of those seeking to control their power while recognizing their own function of fulfilling a social need. American society may have gotten a bit soft due to its wealth but it is used to freedom and the same drives that created American freedom are still there just like Darwinian drives are. We will not survive by going backward. We must accept the problem that the future is uncertain and still move forward because that is our only chance of survival as more than animals. This is why the Greeks created their civilization. They could look out of their city gates and see humans in a state of nature and it wasn't pretty. Philosophy is one of the greatest tools of freedom and weapons against despots. Despots cannot stand the light of truth. One way or another we will be reminded. That fight continues and now as then, it is less a war to be won than the moral battles fought every day by all good men and women. The same tools of philosophy and the lessons of religions are the only way to fight this. The people of civilization have been dragged into a war they never wanted and they must fight back or they will lose.