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What Explains CPAC’s Dance with Milo Yiannopoulos?

milo-latimes-goldberg-feb2017

‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’

editor-commen-deskHuman monkey behavior is often an under-explored element in articles about group dynamics in politics. That’s why we’re pleased to find National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg liberally including quotations from evolutionary psychologist John Tooby. This is from Jonah’s weekly column in the LATimes:


Jonah Goldberg
lanews-jonah-goldberg-20130507 writes:

…From the outset, many on the right who do not consider themselves part of the Cult of Milo opposed his invitation. The disturbing thing is that, absent these videos, we would have lost the fight.

“John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the ‘coalitional instinct.’ In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership … This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird’.”

Even now, Schlapp defends the initial decision to invite Yiannopoulis. On Monday’s ”Morning Joe,” he insisted: “The fact is, he’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to.” A lot of young conservative people, he should have added, precisely because he enrages so many young liberals.

“If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,’ Tooby wrote on Edge.org. ‘This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.’”

And that’s part of the problem. We are in a particularly tribal moment in American politics in which “the 41diaueofdl-_sl250_enemy of my enemy is my ally” is the most powerful argument around.

[Check out John Tooby’s book “The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture at Amazon.com]

John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”

[read the full story here, at LA Times]

We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.

Today, the right sees the left as enemies — and, I should say, vice versa. Yiannopoulous is a hero for many because he fights political correctness and is transgressive. A flamboyant provocateur who wears his homosexuality on his sleeve and acts very much like a left-wing performance artist, he gives the right an edgy cultural avatar to pit against the left. At a time when entertainment and celebrity matter more than facts and arguments, he is an entertaining celebrity.

Until recently, he was also … (read more)

Source: LA Times

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