Fight Like An Animal: Biology and Politics
Updated: Jul 2
Fight Like An Animal is a podcast exploring the evolutionary biology that shapes societies and politics. Why do people have different perceptions of political issues? What social structures are compatible with human nature? What kinds of revolution are ultimately possible? These questions have been excluded from political discourse, but as the global ecosystem crashes, authoritarianism rises, and mutual incomprehension grows, they have never been so important. Bibliographies for each episode below. You can also access this podcast on major platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.
Episode 6: Genocidal Mystics (07/01/2020) We've looked at some of the psychological traits that correlate with ideology, but what about those that don't? Considering the tendency for systems of power to behave the same regardless of their overt ideology, what should we know about the psychology of power? We look at scales of empathy (or lack thereof), manipulativeness, sense of connection to the world, and more.
Episode 5: Psychology and Politics of Collapse: Interview with Ken Ward (06/21/2020) Having described innate psychological tendencies associated with other political perspectives, in this interview we examine what makes an environmentalist. Ken Ward describes his path through professional environmentalism and direct action, the values he encountered among liberals and leftists, and how they are in conflict with ecological survival. We discuss the different forms of intelligence found in the human species; their evolutionary value; and the prospects for a legitimately pluralistic society, in which radically different perspectives can coexist.
Episode 4: It Isn't Nonviolent To Let People Hurt You (06/13/2020) Having described the right-left spectrum in psychological terms, we will now examine the psychology of the liberal, an entity sometimes described as moderately left who has no real counterpart on the right. We will ask why the violence-nonviolence binary has proven so consistently psychologically seductive but also so destructive to social movements. We will talk about the book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolence, the bizarre elaborations on the 'outside agitator' trope currently emerging in American culture, and more.
Episode 3: The Biology of the Right-Left Divide pt. 3: Creepy, Hyper-Sentient Children (05/27/2020) Having described the biology of aggression, we discuss the hypothesis that right-left political difference reflects variation in aggression and its correlated traits. We talk about prolonged development as a mechanism for human evolution and why this means we should expect innate variation in human aggression. We also discuss the problem of self-referentiality, the need for a map of humanity's cognitive tribes, and the relationship of ecological politics to left-right politics.
Episode 2: The Biology of the Right-Left Divide pt. 2: Raven Politics (05/12/2020) Having described the idiosyncratic constellation of traits that correlate with political outlook in the last episode, this time we'll examine the biology of aggression in other species, and how it is correlated with a very similar set of traits. We'll talk about a utopian experiment undertaken among baboons, a revolt against male aggression by female bonobos, foxes that act like dogs, the sex lives of domestic animals, and how young ravens are leftists and old ravens are rightists.
Episode 1: The Biology of the Right-Left Divide pt. 1: Why Political Arguments Don't Change People's Minds (04/30/2020) Does it ever seem like when people are arguing about politics, they are actually arguing about much more fundamental perceptual differences? In this episode, we'll explore the strange, unpredictable landscape of differences between people that correlate with political difference, from genetics to physiology to fear of death to brain structure.
Bibliography for episode one
Bibliography for episode two
Bibliography for episode three
Bibliography for episode four