Most people intuitively feel that life is a never-ending struggle between two opposing forces. Some call them good and evil, some call them darkness and light, some have even called them Aryan and Jew. As this essay will examine, the true eternal struggle is none of those things, but rather the struggle between the K and r-selected.
R/K selection theory is a theory within the biological sciences that seeks to explain the various reproductive strategies of different species and subspecies. According to this theory, the selective pressures of the environment drive organisms towards either an r strategy of producing as many offspring as possible in the hope that some survive, or a K strategy of producing few offspring but investing heavily in them so that they have the best chance of survival.
These are other factors involved, such as gestation time and overall life length, but the essential division is a matter of parental investment. Among r-selected species are insects, fish, crocodiles and rodents, who are known for spawning huge numbers of offspring who are mostly left to their own fate. Among K-selected species are whales, horses, elephants and humans, who are known for long gestation times.
R/K selection theory can tell us a lot about the different strategies used by various subspecies. Crucially, they can help explain some of the behaviour of different human subspecies. For instance, a human group that is more K-selected will have fewer children and will invest more time and resources in them while growing up. Among this group, rates of paternal abandonment and child abuse will be lower than among the r-selected.
Developmental psychology tells us a few things about how children will turn out based on differing levels of parental investment in their upbringing. R-selected groups of humans, like their biological analogues, will produce larger numbers of offspring without a great concern for whether they live or die, a strategy which the K-selected groups eschew in favour of heavy parental investment.
If one takes the extreme example of being orphaned, one can observe the deleterious effects of parental neglect on the psychology of the child. Orphans are often hard, cruel people. They are often angry, bitter and resentful. These personal qualities bode extremely poorly for success in the modern industrial world, where people need to work together prosocially to solve complicated goals.
Conversely, it’s apparent from looking at people from stable, happy family environments that they themselves are much more stable and happy. For them, stability and happiness have been normalised; they expect people to treat them well, and they usually treat other people well. These people naturally have a much easier time meeting the challenges of the workforce.
One thing is immediately apparent from following this reasoning – the economic outcomes of the r-selected must necessarily be worse. All other factors being equal, children whose parents were following a strategy of r-selection will produce offspring with less human capital, and they will consequently be less able to lever it into financial capital. These children will find it harder to get jobs, and to keep them, than the children of the K-selected.
A curiosity that becomes evident after a bit more thinking is that these differing reproductive strategies must necessarily lead to differing political outcomes. K-selected people don’t tend to use much in the way of government resources, because their parents tend to invest a lot in them and this tends to lead to economic independence. This naturally tends towards a kind of right-wing, frontiersman’s thinking because economically independent people lose out from greater resource distribution.
By contrast, r-selected people will naturally tend towards the left. Because they have had less investment made in them on average, they are less able to achieve financial independence, and therefore win from greater resource distribution. As far as the interests of the r-selected are concerned, voting for a political ideology that taxes the K-selected then seems like an obvious move.
Evolutionary game theory tells us that this situation cannot last indefinitely. If one thinks about the mathematics of resource distribution, it can be seen immediately that a society cannot function if it contains only r-selected people: if everyone is r-selected, they will keep breeding to the point of ecological collapse. There must be at least some K-selected people for a society to be viable, otherwise there is no-one making an investment in the future.
However, an oversupply of r-selected groups is the inevitable result of a political system that distributes wealth from the K-selected to the r-selected. There comes a level of taxation that will cause K-selected people to abstain from reproducing on account of not being able to provide a sufficiently decent life for their offspring. R-selected people have no such qualms, and will continue to breed under any circumstances. So high taxation, within a society, shifts the reproductive advantage to the r-selected.
It’s impossible to maintain a society where the K-selected are taxed so heavily to pay for the offspring of the r-selected that they cannot afford to have children themselves. Such an arrangement is essentially a form of biological parasitism, and can only lead to an increase in the numbers of r-selected at the expense of the K-selected. Sooner or later, the K-selected will either rebel or become subsumed in the teeming masses of the r-selected.
The fact that such a society is what we have right now means simply that the current situation cannot continue to exist for long. The K-selected, being more capable of long-term thought, are becoming aware that they have essentially been enslaved through the tax-welfare system to subsidise the breeding of r-selected individuals. This can only continue up to a point, because beyond that point society starts losing cohesion, and then the r-selected and K-selected must fight each other for territory.
This is the true eternal struggle, which will run as long as humanity itself does.
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