The Federalist Papers sought to convince the citizens of New York to adopt the newly written American Constitution. This would create a UNION (a word that they capitalized) capable of accomplishing more than any state alone and would showcase America’s Enlightenment experiment as an example for the rest of the world.

Today, that UNION is in such disarray that effectiveness of democracy itself is being doubted. Everyone knows the system is broken but no one seems to know how to do better. 

Until now, and from an unexpected source: The current incarnation of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Many people link evolution with Social Darwinism, the idea that competition is the law of nature and deserves to shape human society. This view misses the point that cooperation is often the fittest strategy. In The Descent of Man, Darwin described how we, as a social species, survived only in interdependent cooperative groups, not as individuals. He wrote: “Selfish and contentious people will not cohere, and without coherence, nothing can be effected.”

A science of society built on the biological necessity of cooperation can be called “socialism” in the truest sense of embodying our inalienable social nature. Hence, we call the toolkit of ideas outlined in these papers “Socialist Darwinism”. Historically, the Socialist Darwinian focus on cooperation actually preceded the Social Darwinist focus on competition, and the former fits the latest evolutionary science better.

Socialist Darwinism, suitably updated, provides a practical toolkit for democratic UNIONS, at all scales, from small groups to the planet.  We can confidently say that these tools can help you become a better capitalist, or economist, or centrist, or socialist, or whatever–ist, because no -ist or -ism can work well with a false or partial description of human nature and social systems.

This toolkit doesn’t fit current political categories. It isn’t left, right, center or libertarian. It recognizes that markets are powerful engines of coordination but clarifies when self-interest, rightly understood, can robustly benefit the common good. It focuses directly on the welfare of society while recognizing the limitations of top-down planning and regulations that get in the way. Using the latest science to refine the logic of these two main policy narratives, Socialist Darwinism describes what can work.

One key insight is that societies must function as moral communities. As Darwin knew, without a strong moral system, a human group cannot “cohere” or function well. He called our evolved moral sense our “highest faculty”. The great failing of moral systems, of course, is that they are seldom all-inclusive. But we’ll provide examples of multi-level moral systems that can —in principle—be extended planet-wide.

And evolutionary science can upgrade the old “society is an organism” metaphor invoked by great thinkers such as Hobbes and Aristotle. Today we know that human societies truly can qualify as organisms in the benign sense of cooperative wholes that are more than the sum of their parts (UNIONS) and that nurture their parts—but only under special conditions.

Difficult? Of course. Possible? Yes, with the right toolkit.

These short essays will lay out the history, principles, and applications of Socialist Darwinism’s toolkit. The Federalist Papers argued for the creation of a more perfect UNION based on Enlightenment values that predated Darwin. Here we add 200+ years of scientifically refined thought.

Read the full series “Darwinizing the Federalist Papers” below:

  1. Preamble
  2. On the Origin of Socialist Darwinism
  3. More Perfect UNIONS Must Regulate Their Parts
  4. The Human Social Organism and a Parliament of Genes
  5. Morality Regulates Our Social Physiology
  6. The Darwinian ‘Struggle for Existence’ is Really About Balance

Image: “Founding Fathers” by Julia Suits

Published On: July 4, 2019

Publius

Publius

In the spirit of the Federalist Papers, Publius is a collective pseudonym for the group of people organizing this collection of essays.

7 Comments

  • And, by calling it “socialist Darwinism” you have unnecessarily alienated a huge number of potentially interested folk. Let me guess, you are all academics.

  • As Bryan Caplan says, ‘socialist’ is a provocative equivocation. https://www.econlib.org/socialism-the-provocative-equivocation/
    And the world has already had lots of experience with “scientific socialism”. Only the utterly historically tone deaf would go there again in such a terminologically unnecessary way.
    Historically tone deaf folk apparently living in an intellectual bubble. This is not off to a good start.

  • […] Evolution Institute wants to apply up to date Darwinism to politics. In their own […]

  • Paula Wright says:

    We’re a social species not a eusocial species.

    • Steve Davis says:

      Exactly so, Paula.

      Lorenzo said ” ‘socialist’ is a provocative equivocation.” Only to those who look for provocation lurking behind every corner.

      As in the “scientific socialism” strawman that has nothing to do with the matter in hand.

      • Then don’t use the word “socialism” or “socialist”. The word has an enormous history which is intensely contested. Trying to apply science to society and calling its “socialist” is PRECISELY what “scientific socialism” claimed to do. You have immediately turned off well over half the political spectrum utterly pointlessly. It is mindlessly stupid.

  • Jeffrey G Moebus says:

    Having only read the Preamble, i have to agree with Lorenzo: the use of the term “Socialist” is an immediate turnoff for folks who might be otherwise interested. The 20th century’s experience with “socialism” ~ Stalinist, Hitlerian, Maoist, etc ~ is enough to eliminate Socialism ~ scientific or otherwise ~ as a viable, functional alternative of social, economic, and political organization and control.

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