Quick thoughts on r/K selection and the future

I must admit, I am a bit of a fan of Anonymous Conservative‘s r/K-selection theory of politics. To say that I think it has some merit in describing our current political climate is a slight understatement, and I find it describes modern liberals quite well.

Yet, I do think the theory falters a bit when describing historical individuals with leftist tendencies. Men like George Orwell or the American Founding Fathers are not so easily described as r-selected.

Is this a problem with Anonymous Conservative’s theory? This is a possibility, though I think there is some equivocation going on here. Many “classical liberals” would be described today as perhaps Libertarian (though a small few might profess beliefs akin to, but less refined than, Techno-Commercialist Neoreactionaries). The comparison is of course by no means exact, though I think it holds some validity.

Additionally, because Cthulu always swims left, many individuals who have historically be on the left would nowadays find themselves on the right, though it is unclear what problems, if any, this poses for Anonymous Conservative’s theory.

Nonetheless, I still posit that the K-selected liberal is no unicorn, that it is a real thing, though a thing that may nowadays only manifest itself in what are essentially negligible numbers.

The modern progressive is a different beast altogether. A warped descendent of the classical liberal, it is this specimen that pervades the left-wing of modern US politics. It is this type of liberal that is so well described by Anonymous Conservative’s theory.

I have a tendency to view the rise of the r-type progressives as part of a historical pattern that has played itself out many times before. However, I would like to propose a hypothesis that we have departed from the historical pattern, and we now have as a feature of our society more r-types than has ever been possibly in previous eras.

I base this hypothesis off the observation that r-types tend to live off of the wealth that K-types inevitably accumulate as they build, maintain, and improve society. The United States has been one of the wealthiest and most prosperous societies in the history of the world, and we thus have had more room for an “r-load” unprecedented in human history.

This arrangement offers plenty of room for disaster if something bad happens, though, as r-types are fairy useless in crisis situations. Will something bad happen? I am agnostic on this point. I merely recognize that the potential for catastrophe here is orders of magnitude higher than what any sane person ought to be comfortable with.

I do try to avoid making specific predictions here, so I will simple state that some sort of upheaval with consequences that become utterly exacerbated by the prevalence of r-type progressives is one of several paths that the US (and greater Western Civilization as a whole) might take. Still, it is a possibility, one that all those with a stake in the future would indeed be wise to prepare for.

UPDATE: Intuitive Reason gives his own thoughts on the matter in a great comment I think is well worth the read:

“I believe AC touches on this himself in his latest piece on the veterans of various wars — the US (and most western democracies) are becoming more r-select over time. It’s an inherent function of urbanisation, and nowhere more evident that in the heart of large cities. Of course, this is exacerbated by wars eliminating many K-select men. Experiencing no shortage of resource, r-selection inevitably thrives because it is what works.

K-selection thrives on the frontier. I suspect that the great expansions into North America, and later Australia, produced significantly K-selected societies in those nations, for that period of expansion. Then, as those places urbanised, r-selection took over.

One of the interesting aspects of British culture is the tendency for those with an abundance of resource to deny their children access to that — creating an artificial K-select environment if you will.

Today, with r-selection dominant, law after law is being enacted sheltering individuals from consequence and lack, accelerating the r-selection dominance. It is to the point where it is becoming difficult to rear a child in an artificially K-select manner.

Another thought is that the tendency of war to lead to r-selection occurs solely in the instance where war occurs elsewhere than the homeland. If the homeland is overrun, the r-select are preferentially killed off, and the K-select of whichever side ends up winning rebuild in an expansive and K-selecting environment.

Maybe Russia was onto something in forcing its rabbits to fight, sandwiched between certain death on both sides.”

SPQR

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6 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on r/K selection and the future

  1. intuitivereason 04/10/2014 / 9:56 PM

    I believe AC touches on this himself in his latest piece on the veterans of various wars — the US (and most western democracies) are becoming more r-select over time. It’s an inherent function of urbanisation, and nowhere more evident that in the heart of large cities. Of course, this is exacerbated by wars eliminating many K-select men. Experiencing no shortage of resource, r-selection inevitably thrives because it is what works.

    K-selection thrives on the frontier. I suspect that the great expansions into North America, and later Australia, produced significantly K-selected societies in those nations, for that period of expansion. Then, as those places urbanised, r-selection took over.

    One of the interesting aspects of British culture is the tendency for those with an abundance of resource to deny their children access to that — creating an artificial K-select environment if you will.

    Today, with r-selection dominant, law after law is being enacted sheltering individuals from consequence and lack, accelerating the r-selection dominance. It is to the point where it is becoming difficult to rear a child in an artificially K-select manner.

    Another thought is that the tendency of war to lead to r-selection occurs solely in the instance where war occurs elsewhere than the homeland. If the homeland is overrun, the r-select are preferentially killed off, and the K-select of whichever side ends up winning rebuild in an expansive and K-selecting environment.

    Maybe Russia was onto something in forcing its rabbits to fight, sandwiched between certain death on both sides.

    • disenchantedscholar 04/12/2014 / 5:30 PM

      As a Brit, I have seen this denial habit firsthand. When questioned, the parents always told me it “builds character.” Clever people, all of them.

  2. Legionnaire 04/11/2014 / 7:40 AM

    Great thoughts. I agree with you especially about how the laws are slowly becoming a means of saving people from the consequences of their actions. I think this is a powerful symptom of and cause of societal decay.

    Thanks for pointing out how wars affect this dynamic. I wasn’t aware of that before. There’s some very interesting points worth considering there…

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