Here’s a pro-Obama (or at least pro-Democrats) argument you probably haven’t heard: evolution favors mutual support and group efforts over fierce individualism and autonomy. At least that’s the case being made in a piece today on “evolution politics” by Walter C. Clemens, Jr., political science professor emeritus at Boston University and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Stuart A. Kauffman, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, currently teaching at the University of Vermont.
In their piece for WBUR’s Cognescenti, the authors ask the question: “Which works better — rugged individualism or mutual aid?” Here’s their response:
Republicans champion self-reliance. Most Democrats also extol hard work — but agree with former President Bill Clinton that “we’re all in this together.” This view, Clinton told the Democratic National Convention in Sept., “is a better philosophy than, ‘you’re on your own.’”
The science of evolution supports the notion that self-centered autonomy generally leads to dead ends. Survival requires mutual aid. Today’s life scientists see that evolution is not the Jack London-social Darwinist version of nature that many Republicans embrace. To be sure, individuals and entire species compete for scarce resources, but all of life — from the biosphere to the econosphere — is filled with mutualisms that facilitate a diverse abundance. Continue reading