I just finished reading a very interesting, and quite alarming, book by Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites. As best as I can tell, Hayes doesn’t know about cultural multilevel selection (CMLS) theory, yet his book is a perfect illustration of one of the general principles directly stemming from a central theoretical result in CMLS, the Price Equation.
Without going into the technical details, one of the implications of the Price equation is that internal competition between group members corrodes cooperation within the group. There are other implications (external competition between groups promotes cooperation, and the cultural variances between and within groups are also highly important), but today I will focus just on internal competition.
Christopher Hayes is a journalist and political commentator. I believe that the core of his argument is right on the money, but some of the theoretical frameworks that he employs are dated. I don’t want to criticize the book for what is really peripheral to the main message, so I will simply use the theoretical language that I consider most suitable. So here’s the Hayes’ argument as viewed through my theoretical lenses.
Read more at Social Evolution Forum.