There are a bunch of right wing theories that are necessary to understand certain aspects of how the world works. I have already written extensively on how national IQ influences economic success and vice versa. Theories that go into a more sociological or historical direction mostly come out of the neoreaction movement.
Today I want to give a brief overview and some comments on Bioleninism. Bioleninism was proposed by the blogger Spandrell a couple of years back and has quickly become mainstream in right wing circles for two reasons: It definitely captures some of what’s going on and it also allows right wingers to sneer a leftist activists.
To me bioleninism is a great theory because it neatly explains two great sociological mysteries.
The first mystery concerns the development of mainstream thought. In the West it seems to have one direction only. Political thought only ever moves to the left. Todays conservatives are just yesteryears lefties. This is a really strong pattern and a huge problem for conservatives. If they are historically aware they basically have to react to the extreme left ideas now, because those will be entrenched in just a couple of years. Which then predictably causes the reaction „conservatives are in a moral panic“. A few years later all conservative fears have come true.
This trend is called „Cthulhu always swims left“. I think this term originated in rationalist circles.
The second mystery is that this trend did not exist in the Soviet Union. Anatoly Karlin calls this the „Soviet freezer“. For some reason Eastern European countries came out of the Cold War with many social attitudes basically identical to what they used to be in the West before World War 2. They then generally started to drift leftwards but the remnants can still be seen in for example in Victor Orban’s laws against homosexual propaganda.
Spandrell explains that „Socialism“ (or really any leftwing endeavor) works by solving a coordination problem:
„With all the scientific advances of the last centuries, the 18th and 19th century intellectuals were just brimming with excitement with all the things they could get done. All those plans of social engineering. Utopia on earth! It just seemed so feasible. And yet they could never pull it off through the political process. They just couldn’t pull it off. The politicians and bureaucrats just weren’t loyal enough. Constant factionalism and infighting made any real reform impossible.“
„Socialism works by hacking the Social Calculus Module that humans have in our brains. Remember, humans care deeply about status. Status is what drives human behavior. Everybody works to achieve more status, and to avoid losing status. Socialism of course sells egalitarianism. It tells people with low status that they can get some more.“
„Socialism works not only because it promises higher status to a lot of people. Socialism is catnip because it promises status to people who, deep down, know they shouldn’t have it. There is such a thing as natural law, the natural state of any normally functioning human society. Basic biology tells us people are different. Some are more intelligent, more attractive, more crafty and popular. Everybody knows, deep in their lizard brains, how human mating works: women are attracted to the top dogs. Being generous, all human societies default to a Pareto distribution where 20% of people are high-status, and everyone else just has to put up with their inferiority for life. That’s just how it works.“
„What did Lenin do? Exterminate the natural aristocracy of Russia, and build a ruling class with a bunch of low-status people. Workers, peasants, Jews, Latvians, Ukrainians. Lenin went out of his way to recruit everyone who had a grudge against Imperial Russian society. And it worked, brilliantly.“
The key insight here is that there is nobody as loyal and motivated as a low status person whom you promised higher status. This means that especially in a democracy, low status groups are basically pools of untapped power. If you manage to mobilize them you’ll have tireless activists and loyal voters and therefore good chances to achieve your objective.
„But of course the Left has been in power for 200 years now. Once they got power, they got enjoyed their hardly fought high status. Naturally they lost discipline, until a party further Left appeared, and then won. And so on and so forth. Cthulhu always swims left. That’s where power is.“
This describes the dynamic in a western democracy, how about the East, where the leftist victory was much more decisive?
„The point about Leninism is that after absolute power is achieved, the leftist ratchet stops. The country stops moving left. No new ideas. No new catering to low-status people and using them to topple the government. No, none of that. The ever advancing leftist movement was just a means to an end. The end was power. Once power is achieved, leftism dissolves.“
If one group achieves absolute dictatorial power, it suppresses all movements from the left. Of course without being voters, these movements have a much harder time getting traction anyway. But in the West this dynamic seems to be a perpetuum mobile. Shouldn’t at some point all civil rights movements have run their course?
„But even in the best of worlds, there’s always low status people. Even if you re-engineer society so that there’s complete equality of opportunity, even if you run a revolution and you dissolve every existing hierarchy and start anew. There will always be low status people.
Because there’s always biology. Some people are tall, some people are short. Some look good, some are pretty ugly. Some are thin and some are fat. Some are pleasant some are annoying. Some are cool and some are awkward. Some are smart and some are dumb. Some make good choices some make bad choices. Some are law-abiding and some are criminally inclined. The latter of each pair is going to be low status anywhere on earth. Even in Soviet Communism under commander Trotsky. Some people just suck. That’s the way genes work.“
For biological reasons you will never run out of low status people. This means there is always a pool of power waiting to be tapped. Homosexuals, the morbidly obese, the transsexuals … You can mobilize women in one wave of feminism after another. Minorities likewise.
As mentioned in the introduction, this theory is a winner. Not only does it obviously explain a part of what is happing, maybe even a large part, but it also allows its adherent to sneer at leftist activists.
The part that makes the theory gloatable is, maybe not surprisingly, the least convincing. Not because it is wrong per se, but because it seems unnecessary. Consider:
If you are an up-and-coming fascist in the 20ies or 30ies of the 19th century, low status men will flock to your banner to grab the one chance to rise they will likely get. And maybe that’s great for you. You can make that point to them individually and recruit them one by one. But you can’t address them as a group. „Losers in this society are unfairly maligned, stand with me, dear losers, and I’ll fight for your rights“ just doesn’t work. So the key aspect of having a biologically defined group seems to be that biological characteristics define identities. And identities define groups that can be addressed wholesale. And that allows you to recruit entire groups to your cause.
There really is no necessity for the biological characteristic to also directly be the reason for the low status. It would be perfectly fine to have an identity group that is low status, say, because it is a minority with a different religion in a very religious country. Or an ethnic minority in a very racist country. For example, it would not be very surprising to see such groups overrepresented in a Bolshevik revolution. It also seems very unlikely that African Americans, for example, subconsciously feel deep down, that in a functioning society, they will always be low status.
And of course the whole „low status people flock to extremist groups“ isn’t a solely leftist phenomenon either. I noticed for example that catholic student unions at my alma mater seemed to exhibit a statistically very significant „pimple and braces“ density.
Conversely, there are low status groups, even low status for biological reasons, that are never subjects of the whole civil rights circus. Autists come to mind. Autists just aren’t very recruitable.
So if we see low status people flock to extreme ideologies, that’s just the same mechanism for the left and the right. It happens on an individual basis and is driven by these individuals’s choices. Sometimes the reason for the low status is biological, sometimes not. It doesn’t really matter.
On the other hand, if low status groups are picked as new „civil rights“ causes, then this is a way to mobilize the political power inherent in an recruitable low status group and it is driven by power hungry individuals that usually already are high status. Here the important characteristic of the group is not that the low status is biological, but that the group is recruitable. Biologically defined groups are often recruitable, because identity markers are often biological.
These are two separate mechanisms.