Sunday, January 26, 2020

Trump and Political Philosophy (2): Aristotle on Trump's Campaign Rhetoric

Despite the broad coverage of political philosophy as applied to Trump in Trump and Political Philosophy, there is something missing--there is no thought about how Aristotle's Rhetoric could illuminate Trump's rhetoric.  There are some references to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics--and Carson Holloway's paper on Book Five of the Politics is excellent--but there is a complete silence about Aristotle's classic study of rhetorical theory.  That's too bad, because it's impossible to understand Trump's electoral success without understanding his distinctive rhetoric, and there has never been a better book on rhetoric than Aristotle's.  (I have written a series of posts on the Nicomachean Ethics that begin herehere, and here.)

It has always seemed odd to me that political scientists and scholars of political philosophy ignore Aristotle's Rhetoric, although politics is all about rhetorical persuasion, and Aristotle wrote the best study of the subject.  Moreover, much of Aristotle's book can be understood as political moral psychology, comparable to some of the recent evolutionary political psychology developed by people like Jonathan Haidt (as I indicated in a post here.)

After looking back at my book Aristotle on Political Reasoning: A Commentary on the "Rhetoric" (first published in 1981), I thought I would briefly sketch Aristotle's framework for rhetorical analysis and then apply it to one of the prominent examples of Trump's campaign rhetoric: his speech announcing his presidential run in June of 2015.


For the sake of brevity, I will have to be schematic without filling in the details.  (Hey, go buy my book, and buy extra copies for your family and friends.)

Rhetoric is reasoning from the common opinions of one's audience, so that the persuasive speaker starts with the common opinions (doxa) and then moves the audience to the conclusions that he favors.

Aristotle distinguishes the means of rhetorical persuasion into three broad categories:  the intellectual content (dianoia) of a speech, the style (lexis) of a speech, and the arrangement (taxis) of a speech.

The intellectual content has three elements: the arguments of the speech (logos), the character of the speaker (ethos), and the emotions of the audience (pathos).  A successful speaker must offer persuasive arguments in his speech.  He must show his own character to be persuasive.  And he must persuasively handle the emotions of his audience to move them to action or decision.

Persuasive arguments have formal and substantive elements.  The two formal elements are logical (deductive) reasoning through enthymemes and factual (inductive) reasoning through examples.  Enthymemes are syllogisms (reasoning from premises to conclusions), but often some of the steps in the syllogism are left unstated.  Examples can be either historical cases or fictional stories.

There are three substantive kinds of persuasive arguments corresponding to the three subject areas of rhetoric.  Political rhetoric consists of deliberative arguments about policies for the future that can be advantageous or disadvantageous for the political community.  Legal rhetoric consists of forensic arguments about past actions accusing or defending people in judging the justice or injustice of their actions.  Epideictic rhetoric consists of ceremonial arguments for praising people for their noble deeds or blaming them for their ignoble deeds.

We see political rhetoric when people are debating matters of public policy or constitutional issues concerning the institutional structure of a regime.  We see legal rhetoric when lawyers or judges are debating the application of law to particular cases.  We see epideictic rhetoric when in ceremonial occasions (such as funerals and the dedication of cemeteries), the past deeds of people are praised as honorable or blamed as dishonorable.

A speaker's persuasiveness depends not just on his presentation of persuasive arguments (logos), which Aristotle takes up in Book One of the Rhetoric, but also on his presentation of his moral and intellectual character through his speech (ethos), and on his moving his audience in their emotions (pathos), which he takes up in Book Two.

The character of a speaker is most persuasive when he displays prudence (phronesis), virtue (arete), and good will (eunoia).  A speaker shows his prudence when he shows his practical competence in judging the subject of his speech.  A speaker shows his virtue when he shows that he is trustworthy.  And he shows his good will when he shows that he cares for his audience.  A speaker who appears to be imprudent, untrustworthy, and uncaring is not persuasive.

A successful speaker must also be emotionally persuasive in understanding the emotions of his audience, so that he can stir those emotions that favor his position and calm those emotions that deny his position.  To achieve this, Aristotle lays out the social psychology of seven pairs of emotions that counter one another: anger and calmness, friendly feeling and enmity, fear and confidence, shame and shamelessness, kindliness and unkindliness, pity and indignation, and envy and emulation.

It might seem strange that Aristotle presents this account of the emotions as part of the intellectual side of rhetoric (or what Aristotle calls dianoia), because we often assume that reason and emotion are in oppositin.  But actually Aristotle suggests that the emotions are rational, in the sense that they arise from beliefs about the world that can be either true or false.  Consequently, a speaker can talk an audience into or out of an emotion by persuading them that their emotion is either reasonable or unreasonable as a response to their circumstances.  A rhetorician changes the emotions of his listeners by changing their minds.

So, for example, Aristotle defines anger as "a painful desire for a conspicuous revenge for a conspicuous slight of oneself or one's own, the slight being undeserved" (1378a32-33).  (Similarly, evolutionary psychologists like Debra Lieberman, who have developed a cognitive theory of the passions, will define anger as a painful response to perceptions of social undervaluation.)  Aristotle infers from this definition the various elements of anger--how angry people are disposed, with whom they are customarily angry, and in what circumstances they are inclined to anger.  With this knowledge of anger, he then shows how a speaker can arouse anger in his audience by persuading them that they have been slighted by someone undeservedly, and therefore they should seek revenge; or he can calm the anger in his audience by persuading them that their anger is not warranted by the circumstances.

Notice that the slight that arouses anger must be undeserved.  Human beings become angry when they think they are not being treated in accordance with their worth.  Anger, then, is a response to injustice in its fundamental sense of not receiving one's due.  Anger manifests a natural sense of justice.  Some of the prime causes of anger--such as ingratitude, refusal to reciprocate good for good, and failure to help one's friends--are the sort of things that Aristotle identifies as unjust by nature.  The human emotion of anger is the ultimate source of the legal concept of natural law.

By the end of the second book of the Rhetoric, Aristotle has explained all of the rhetorical "proofs" (pisteis) for handling the arguments of a speech, the character of the speaker, and the emotions of the audience.  It might seem then that he is finished.

But in the third and final book of the Rhetoric, Aristotle takes up the elements of oratorical performance that he has previously neglected--the style and arrangement of speeches.  He has denounced sophistical speakers for being so preoccupied with verbally charming and diverting their listeners that they ignore the primacy of "proof" and the "body of proof"--the enthymeme.  Now, in the third book, he seems to be introducing the same devices of verbal ornamentation that are favored by the sophists.

To devote so much attention to matters of style is necessary, Aristotle admits, only as a concession to corrupt listeners.  But still he accentuates the rational character of the subject.  Style can be proper if it is an integral part of the substantive proofs of a speech--if it's a style that is appropriate to the subject, that manifests the speaker's character, and that expresses the right emotion.

Style concerns not what one says but how one says it.  And so style has little influence with good listeners, because they are more interested in the substantive proofs of a speech than in its manner of presentation.  And "rightly considered," concentrating on style "is thought vulgar" (1403b37-1404a2).  But the "corruption of regimes" and the concomitant "corruption of the listener" make it necessary for the rhetorician to be careful about style.  Since it is important for speaking clearly and with the proper dignity, the rhetorician needs to consider it somewhat in any type of instruction.  It assumes great importance, however, only for the sake of diverting the listener with amusing imagery--"wherefore no one teaches geometry this way."

Through the clever use of an emotional style, Aristotle explains, a speaker can make his audience believe in what he asserts to be facts, even when his assertions are false:
"Style expresses emotion when a man speaks with anger of an insolent insult. . . . The appropriate style makes the fact appear credible: the mind of the listener makes a logical error in believing the truth of what the speaker says, because they in the audience feel the same emotions, so that they think the facts to be so, even if they are not as the speaker represents them; and the hearer always sympathizes with the emotional speaker, even though he says nothing.  As a result, many overwhelm their listeners by making noise" (1408a23-25).
If a speaker expresses an emotional style of anger as he asserts that he and his audience should be justifiably angry, because they have been slighted or injured by their enemies, and if the audience shares this emotion of anger with the speaker, the audience will believe the factual assertions of the speaker, even when these are false.  This is the fallacy of an emotional style of speaking: if the speaker speaks in the style of an emotion like anger, and if the audience sympathizes with that emotion, then the facts asserted by the speaker as justifying that emotion will appear to be true, even though they are false.  Because of this emotional style, "the mind of the listener makes a logical error."

This is what happens when a regime becomes utterly corrupt, resulting in the corruption of opinion, and then even the noblest rhetorician must turn his attention to style to hold the interest of his listeners.  Thus the character of a regime determines the character of rhetoric. And Aristotle wishes his rhetorician to know not only what would be possible in the best regime and what is commonly possible in most regimes, but also what is demanded in the worst regimes.

Like style, Aristotle prefers not to give too much importance to the arrangement of a speech.  In its simplest form, it's enough to arrange a speech into two parts--state the case and then prove it.  But many speeches might require at least four parts: a proem that catches the attention of the audience, a statement of the speaker's position, the proof for that position, which is usually the longest part of the speech, and then an epilogue that summarizes what has been said.

Aristotle's Rhetoric provides the entire toolkit for rhetoric.  Every possible technique for persuasion is included.  But different kinds of rhetoricians will tend to rely on different kinds of techniques.

Trump's rhetoric is certainly distinctive.  In his formal logic, he tends to rely more on reasoning from examples or factual claims than on reasoning by logical inference.  But like any persuasive speaker, there is always, at least implicitly, an underlying enthymematic deductive argument.  Trump's general enthymeme in his presidential campaign was clear: It would be good for America to be made great again.  I will make America great again.  Therefore, it would be good for America to elect me President.

In his substantive arguments, he engages mostly in political or deliberative rhetoric rather than legal or epideictic rhetoric.

In his rhetorical appeal to his good character, he emphasizes his practical judgment as a successful businessman, his trustworthiness as a leader, and his good will towards his supporters as he fights for them against their enemies.

In his emotional rhetoric, he stirs up the resentful anger of his audience as people who have been unfairly slighted by the elite ruling class, and he promises that he will take vengeance against those enemies of the people.  He also arouses his audience's fear of those who would attack and exploit them, such as foreign countries and illegal immigrants who take their jobs and threaten their lives and families, and he promises that he will defend them against those enemies.

The most distinctive feature of Trump's rhetoric is his style.  Aristotle thought that an excessive emphasis on style was vulgar.  And, indeed, Trump's rhetorical style makes him the center of attention because of its vulgarity.

This was made clear when some people complained that Trump's rhetoric was not "presidential," because it did not show the style of formal dignity and propriety that people expect to hear from a president, and Trump responded by saying that if he adopted a "presidential" style of speaking, this would be "too boring" for his audience, who need to be entertained.

                               At a Wisconsin Rally: Being Presidential "Would Be Boring"

There is, however, as I have indicated, a Teleprompter Trump who is more presidential and less vulgar in his style than the Turbulent Trump.  The Teleprompter Trump is displayed in speeches like his address in Warsaw in 2017, and these are the speeches favored by the intellectuals who support Trump--like the Claremont Straussians.


At Trump Tower in June 16, 2015, Trump announced his candidacy.  This is a full video of the speech.  A full transcript of the speech along with annotations can be found here at the Washington Post.

In this speech, Trump's primary mode of rhetorical persuasion is his appeal to his character as a successful real estate businessman who has shown his astute practical judgment for making deals that has made him very rich, which shows that as president he can make deals for America, so that America can become a winner again, after too many years of being a loser.

American politicians today don't have this competence because they are too stupid to make good deals for America: "politicians are all talk, no action."  After describing how China, Japan, and Mexico take American jobs and money, he asks: "How stupid are our leaders?  How stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen?  How stupid are they?"

"Our country is in serious trouble.  We don't have victories anymore.  We used to have victories, but we don't have them.  When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let's say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time.  All the time"

Not only are the politicians too stupid to make good deals, they are also controlled by special interests, by political donors, and by lobbyists.  So the voters cannot trust them to care about what's good for America.  By contrast, Trump says, you can trust me to work for you because I am so rich that I don't need money from the special interests.  "I'm using my own money.  I'm not using the lobbyists.  I'm not using the donors.  I don't care. I'm really rich."

It's important, therefore, to impress his audience with how wealthy he is.  "I'm proud of my net worth.  I've done an amazing job."  He presents a written financial statement of his wealth that says that he has assets of $9 billion and 240 million dollars.

Remarkably, however, his financial statement gives no supporting evidence for this number.  And since he is famous for piling up huge debt that has forced him into multiple bankruptcies, many people are skeptical about his claims about his wealth.

Trump's political rhetoric about public policy in this speech depends mostly on reasoning from examples.  So to show the need for restrictions on international trade, he describes examples of trade that are bad for the United States.

"When did we beat Japan at anything?  They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do?  When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn't exist, folks.  They beat us all the time. When do we beat Mexico at the border?  They're laughing at us, at our stupidity.  And now they are beating us economically.  They are not our friend, believe me.  But they're killing us economically."

It is easy for the "fact-checkers" of Trump's speech to point out that although Chevrolet is not a popular car in Japan, there are Chevrolets in Tokyo.

"But I said, 'Don't hit Iraq,' because you're going to totally destabilize the Middle East.  Iran is going to take over the Middle East, Iran and somebody else will get the oil, and it turned out that Iran is now taking over Iraq.  Think of it.  Iran is taking over Iraq, and they're taking it over big league."

This has been one of Trump's most often repeated examples of his good judgment in foreign policy--that unlike most Republican and Democrat leaders, he warned against the American invasion of Iraq that began on March 19, 2003.  He used this both against his Republican opponents in the primaries and against Hillary Clinton.

But there is no evidence that Trump ever warned against invading Iraq before the invasion started, although he expressed concerns about the costs of the war after it started, and by 2004 he was publicly criticizing the war.

Newspapers like the Washington Post and organizations like have regularly pointed out that many of Trump's examples in his speeches are either completely false or distortions of the truth.  Remarkably, Trump's response to this has been to repeat the same examples without ever admitting their falsity.

In some cases, the falsity of his examples is so obvious as to be preposterous.

"Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product--a sign of strength, right? But not for us.  It was below zero.  Whoever heard of this? It's never below zero."

It's impossible for GDP to be "below zero"!  Apparently, he's referring to a quarterly report not about GDP but about the growth in GDP, which is often "below zero" in some quarters.

Here's another preposterous example: "A lot of people up there can't get jobs.  They can't get jobs, because there are no jobs, because China has our jobs, and Mexico has our jobs.  They all have jobs."

There are no jobs?  Actually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings at the end of April of 2015 was 5.4 million, which was the highest since December of 2000.  In recent years, there has been no shortage of jobs in America.  Instead, there has been a shortage of labor to fill the many job openings.

This is a critical point for explaining why people voted for Trump.  Did they vote for him because they were unemployed or otherwise economically disadvantaged, and they thought Trump would create good jobs for them?  Some surveys of his voters have indicated that most of them had incomes placing them in the top 50% of incomes.  If this is so, then it's not clear that voting for Trump was an expression of economic grievances.

The true motivation for Trump's voters might have been not so much economic as cultural--a response to Trump's emotional rhetoric of fear--the fear of dangerous foreign invaders.  Near the beginning of his speech, Trump provided the most memorable passage of his speech:

"When do we beat Mexico at the border?  They're laughing at us, at our stupidity.  And now they are beating us economically.  They are not our friend, believe me.  But they're killing us economically."

"The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."


"Thank you.  It's true, and these are the best and the finest.  [He points to the crowd of people on the balcony above him applauding.]  When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.  They're not send you.  They're not sending you.  They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us.  They're bringing drugs.  They're bringing crime.  They're rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people."

"But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we're getting.  And it only makes common sense.  It only makes common sense.  They're sending us not the right people."

So while "some" of the Mexican immigrants to the United States are "good people," most of them are drug-dealers, criminals, and rapists?

Amazingly, Trump and his supporters have never denied or apologized for this remark.  Instead, they have said that it really is "common sense" and an honest challenge to "political correctness."

In fact, immigrants to the U.S. generally show crime rates that are lower than for native-born Americans.  But still Trump can point to examples of immigrants who have committed crimes in the U.S.--like the infamous MS13 gangs and those who attacked the American families who were represented in the audience for Trump's first State of the Union Address, where he identified them as typical Americans who have faced violence from Mexican immigrants.

Trump is skillful in employing what Aristotle identified as the fallacy of emotional style.  Trump speaks in a style of anger in response to perceived slights from Mexico: "they're laughing at us, at our stupidity."  And he speaks in a style of fear in response to perceived attacks from Mexican immigrants: "They're bringing drugs.  They're bringing crime.  They're rapists."  And if his audience sympathizes with his emotions of anger and fear, then they believe his false facts justifying these emotions must be true.  Nothing said by the "fact-checkers" can negate the emotional power of this rhetorical fallacy over the minds of Trump's supporters.

I will have more to say in future posts about the rhetoric of Trump's speeches.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Trump and Political Philosophy: Is Trump's Rhetoric Lincolnian?

                                Trump's Teleprompter Speech in Warsaw, Poland, July 6, 2017

                                           Trump Tosses Out His "Boring" Speech Notes

I have been thinking about how political philosophy might help us understand Donald Trump.  I have been prompted to do that by my reading of Trump and Political Philosophy, a two-volume collection of papers edited by Angel Jaramillo Torres and Marc Benjamin Sable (published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018).  This will be the first of a series of posts on the questions raised by those papers.

One of those questions is whether Trump's rhetoric can be rightly understood as following in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln.  This question is posed sharply by the contrast between John Burt's paper ("The Lesson of Lincoln in the Age of Trump") and Kenneth Masugi's paper ("The Great Emancipators Oppose the 'Slave Power': The Lincolnian--and Aristotelian--Dimensions of Trump's Rhetoric").

Burt argues that Trump rejects Lincoln's view of the Declaration of Independence as affirming a Kantian politics of human equality and liberty, and instead Trump promotes a rhetoric of resentment and grievance based on a Schmittian conception of politics as a battle between friends and enemies.  On the contrary, Masugi argues, Trump's rhetoric affirms Lincoln's vision of the Declaration of Independence in declaring that "making America great again" will renew America's devotion to the principles of Lincoln and the Declaration.

The reason for this disagreement is that they are looking at two different versions of Trump's rhetoric.  Masugi is looking at the rhetoric of the Teleprompter Trump, who reads off a teleprompter an eloquent and thoughtful speech written for him by others--like his speech in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6, 2017.  Burt is looking at the rhetoric of the Turbulent Trump, who tosses out the speech notes prepared for him because he finds them "too boring," and then launches into a rambling rant full of resentment, boasting, and lying as he attacks those he identifies as his enemies.

Once one sees this, then the question is which of these two Trumps is the true Trump?  Or must Trump's populist rhetoric always be a confusing mixture of both?  Or can Trump's two rhetorical styles be understood as different ways of expressing the same ideas?


Burt is the author of Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism (Harvard University Press, 2013), which interprets Lincoln's political thought in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates as founded on Kantian liberal principles.  This connection between Lincoln and Kant runs through his paper in Trump and Political Philosophy.

Burt sees Lincoln's interpretation of the principles of the Declaration of Independence as based on the Kantian principle that all human beings are equal in their moral dignity as persons, and therefore that the legitimacy of government arises from the consent among equals who respect one another's worth as moral agents.  Against this is the contrasting view assumed by Stephen Douglas and elaborated in the writings of Carl Schmitt that politics is ultimately about the contest between friends and enemies.  Until recently, Burt believes, America has been on the side of Lincoln and Kant; but now Trump and his populist movement are pushing America to the side of Douglas and Schmitt.

Burt sees Trump as denying two ideas that have been core values for America until recently:
"1.  That America sees itself as destined to be an equal multicultural society that will root its sense of being a nation in a common political culture rather than in common blood; that in attempting to become a multicultural democracy America will blaze a path for democracy worldwide."
"2.  That America is committed to a world order founded upon multilateral agreements (as opposed to two-sided bargains of a temporary and transactional kind), to international institutions of collective security ruled by open covenants openly arrived at, in short to an order which extends to the world the political culture of liberal democracy" (215).
These two ideas are presented in Kant's writings--particularly, in his essay "Perpetual Peace."  The first idea comes from Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's interpretation of the Declaration as affirming the equal liberty of all human beings and of their right to establish governments to secure their rights by their consent acting as one people.  The second idea is the application of the first idea to international politics, which was expressed in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and elaborated by later presidents, as part of the post World War Two understanding of the liberal international order, in which equally sovereign nations would cooperate through international agreements to secure peaceful security, free trade, and human rights for the mutual benefit of all nations.

According to Burt, Trump's Schmittian populist rejects both of these ideas, because Trump sees both national politics and international politics as violent contests between friends and enemies.  As Trump sees it, American politics is a battle between the Elites and the People, and some Americans are not part of the American People because they are actually "Enemies of the People."  For example, Muslim Americans are not real Americans because they are in sympathy with foreign terrorists, as illustrated by the thousands of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey, whom Trump knows cheered the attack on the Twin Towers.  And Mexican Americans are not real Americans because most of them are rapists, drug dealers, and murderous gang members, although "some, I assume, are good people."  Consequently, American judges who are Muslims or Mexicans are "haters" of Trump who cannot be trusted to be fair judges.

For Trump, international politics is also a battle between friends and enemies, because in the competition between nations, there must be winners and losers.  Under the false appearance of an international order of globalist cooperation, the United States has been losing in its competition with other nations; and only now, with Trump's policy of America First, America is finally winning again.


While Burt supports his view of Trump's ugly rhetoric by citing Trump's inflammatory remarks at his campaign rallies, in his Twitter messages, and in some informal remarks, Masugi supports his view of Trump's noble rhetoric by reading three of Trump's formal speeches in 2017, in his first six months in office--his Inaugural Address (January 20), his first State of the Union Address (February 28), and his Speech to the People of Poland in Warsaw (July 6).  For each of these three speeches, Trump was careful in reading his prepared speech off a teleprompter.  Notably, Burt never mentions any of these speeches.

In his Inaugural Address, Trump began by acknowledging the presence on the platform of four former presidents--Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama--by thanking President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid, and by noticing that "every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power."

But then he asserted that his inaugural ceremony was different from previous presidential inaugurations in a way that set the theme for his entire speech.
"Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning.  Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another--but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People."
"For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost."
"Washington flourished--but the people did not share in its wealth."
"Politicians prospered--but the jobs left, and the factories closed."
"The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country."
"Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land."
"That all changes--starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you."
"It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America."
"This is your day.  This is your celebration."
"And this, the United States of America, is your country."
"What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people."
"January 20th 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again."
"The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
"Everyone is listening to you now."
"You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before."
"At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens."
Here Masugi sees Trump condemning all previous administrations--both Republican and Democrat--as promoting what Aristotle and the American Founders called a "faction"--promoting the narrow interests of "the establishment" rather than the common good of the People.  But now as "the people became the rulers of this nation again," Trump reaffirmed the teaching of the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address that just government must be of, by, and for the People.

The most often quoted passage of Trump's speech was his description of "American carnage":
"But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential."
"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
In the middle of the speech, Trump uttered the one and only sentence in which he shifted from "we" to "I."
"From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land."
"From this moment on, it's going to be America First."
"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families."
"We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, destroying our jobs.  Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength."
"I will fight for you with every breath in my body--and I will never, ever let you down."
"American will start winning again, winning like never before."
So here Trump clearly identified himself as the one Leader of the People against the Elites who have exploited the People.

In some parts of this speech, Masugi sees Trump affirming what Aristotle called "political friendship"--the communal feeling or allegiance of all citizens to one another that creates a patriotic solidarity.
"At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other."
"When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice."
"The Bible tells us, 'how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.'"
"We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity."
So here, it seems, there need be no Schmittian division of the American people into friends and enemies as long as they live together in patriotic solidarity.

But notice how Trump did point to some divisions within the American People.  First, he set "the establishment" against the People, as what Masugi calls a "faction" that exploits the People.  And then when Trump identified the "tens of millions" who became part of "this movement," he was apparently referring to those voters who elected him, as opposed to those who voted for Hillary Clinton in opposition to "this movement."

Here we see the fundamental problem for all populist rhetoric that claims to speak for the People as opposed to the Elites.  Who are the People?  All of the citizens?  Or only some of the citizens--only those who support the populist leader against the Elites?  Is the contest not only between the People and the Elites but also within the People divided into opposing groups?

In his review of Trump and Political Philosophy in the Claremont Review of Books, Michael Anton said that Aristotle's distinction between "the many" and "the few" does not clearly apply to the United States, where there is no clear-cut "many" comparable to the demos of the ancient Greek cities.  Anton observed: "We instead have two popular classes: unmarried and mostly poor blue-state urbanites, and red-state, rustbelt, heartland blue-collar workers, middle managers, and homemakers."  Yet like the ancient city, "we have only one ruling class" that has chosen to take the side of "the urban mob."  So now we have three groups--the ruling class, the "urban mob" that supports the ruling class, and the rural or small town working class and middle class that supports Trump.

If Trump speaks for the American People, does that mean that those in the "urban mob" who oppose him are not real Americans?

As I have indicated in some previous posts (here and here), this analysis creates serious problems for those Claremont Straussians like Anton and Masugi who want to defend Trump.

According to Anton, the election of 2016 was a life-or-death war, with Trump fighting for the true Americans, the working class and middle class Americans, who are not Third World immigrants or urban poor minorities or cosmopolitan elites, and these Trump voters supported constitutional republicanism.  On the other side of the war, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats represented "half the country and all our elites," who wished to overturn the constitutional republic and replace it with one-party rule with absolute power to rule over the country.

Actually, "half the country" was a majority of the voters, because as Anton indicated, the Republicans have lost the popular vote for the presidency in every election since 1988 except for 2004; and in 2004, Bush won with only 50.7 percent.  And, of course, Trump  lost the popular vote to Clinton in 2016; and he lost again in the mid-term congressional elections in 2018, which Trump turned into a referendum on his presidency.

Anton and Masugi employ a populist rhetoric that presents a Manichaean war between good and evil--the Virtuous People versus the Evil Elites.  This becomes complicated, however, as soon as one notices that some of the People are evil, because they vote for the Evil Elites, and some of the Elites (like Trump, Anton, and Masugi) are virtuous because they lead the Virtuous People against the Evil Elites.  Doesn't this sound like Schmitt's Friends Versus Enemies?  Where's the "political friendship"?

That the Virtuous People who support Trump are a minority was suggested at Trump's Inaugural Address, because the crowd of people on the Washington Mall for the speech was smaller than the crowd for Obama's Inaugural Address.  Trump was so resentful about this that he had to lie by insisting that his crowd was the largest inaugural crowd in American history.

 The Crowd for Trump (Left) Was Smaller than the Crowd for Obama (Right)

The next day Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared: "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration--period."  A photographer for the National Park Service was asked by the White House to crop out the empty space in the photographs of Trump's crowd to make the crowd appear larger than it was.

Five weeks later, in his first State of the Union Address, Trump continued to claim that he spoke for the People; and Masugi sees in this speech more evidence that Trump appeals to the principles of the Declaration of Independence as interpreted by Lincoln.  Masugi rightly points out that Trump placed his speech in the flow of American history from its founding in 1776 to its future 250th anniversary in 2026.

Trump began the speech by saying:
"In nine years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding--250 years since the day we declared our independence.  It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.  But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year?  What kind of country will we leave our children?"
He then indicated that "in 2016, the Earth shifted beneath our feet," and "the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand: that America must put its own citizens first.  Because only then can we truly make America great again."

Most of his speech was a summary of his policy proposals, which included a quotation from Abraham Lincoln as a congressman speaking for a protectionist trade policy.  It's certainly true that trade protectionism was part of Lincoln's Whig ideology.

In speaking about the need to build a great wall on the southern border to restrict immigration, Trump appealed to what Masugi identifies as "natural law":
". . . we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.  As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens.  Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign."
"To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?"
Masugi says that this is a "natural law" stated in the Declaration of Independence in that it is natural for the people to establish government to secure their "safety and happiness."  But is it a matter of  "natural law" that we must agree with Trump's claim that undocumented Mexican immigrants are mostly "gang members, drug dealers, and criminals" who want to steal from and murder innocent Americans?  Or is it possible that the proportion of criminals among immigrants is actually lower than among native-born Americans?

At the end of his speech, Trump declared:
"When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before--for all Americans.  This is our vision.  This is our mission.  But we can only get there together.  We are one people, with one destiny.  We all bleed the same blood.  We all salute the same great American flag.  And we all are made by the same God."
"When we fulfill this vision, when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began."
As Masugi indicates, Trump is suggesting here that in 2026, a year and a half after an eight-year Trump presidency, we will see how his "Make American Great Again" policies renewed the greatness of the American founding with the Declaration of Independence.  And while Trump does not explicitly affirm the Declaration's principle of human equality, there is perhaps an echo of "created equal" in Trump's "we all are made by the same God."

While Masugi respects Trump's rhetorical achievements in his Inaugural Address and his first State of the Union, he thinks "Trump's most profound speech of his presidency" (247) is the speech in Warsaw on July 6th, 2017.

In this speech for Trump's first presidential trip to Europe, the central theme was the survival of the Western world.  In the history of Poland in the 20th century, Trump saw the threats to the West coming from German Nazism and Russian communism and the noble triumph of the Polish people in prevailing against those threats.  But then he saw new threats both internal and external that will require the West to courageously and resolutely reaffirm its distinctively Western cultural identity.
". . as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.  The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.  Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?  Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?  Do we have the desire and courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"
"We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons anywhere on Earth, but if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive.  If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has.  Let them come to Poland.  And let them come here, to Warsaw, and learn the story of the Warsaw Uprising."
 One of the new external threats to the West, Trump declared, is "radical Islamic terrorism."  And he said that he had called on more than 50 Muslim nations to join in defeating these shared enemies.

Other external threats include "new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare."

He also mentioned the new threat from Russia:
"We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes--including Syria and Iran--and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself."
The new internal threat to the West is "the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people.  The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies."

To meet these new threats, the survival of the West, Trump claimed, would depend on a revival of the core values of the West.  He mentioned at least five values.  The first was "individual freedom and sovereignty."  The second was human rights: "above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.  That is who we are.  Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization."

The third value was the agreement of "this great community of nations" in affirming that "it is the people, not the powerful, who have always formed the foundation of freedom and the  cornerstone of our defense."  This "community of nations" was manifest in the NATO alliance of "free, sovereign and independent nations" for the defense of our freedoms and our interests.  In support of NATO, Trump declared the continuing commitment of the United States to Article 5 of the NATO treaty--the mutual defense commitment.

He also repeated his often expressed desire that the NATO powers should do more in spending their fair share of money on defense, and he praised Poland for being one of the NATO members that has made the target of military spending that is 2% of its GDP.

The fourth crucial value of the West that Trump mentioned was what Masugi calls "the divine and transcendent":  Trump told the story of Pope John Paul II's visit to Warsaw on June 2nd, 1979, when one million Poles gathered for a mass with the Pope.
". . . every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down.  They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II's sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer.  A million Polish people did not ask for wealth.  They did not ask for privilege.  Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: 'We Want God.'"
. . .
"As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history.  There message is as true today as ever.  The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out 'We want God.'"
Masugi sees this appeal to the divine as comparable to Lincoln's appeal to the Biblical God in his Second Inaugural Address.

Finally, Masugi also sees Trump invoking another distinctive value of the West--the Socratic philosophic longing for knowledge, including self-knowledge (251, n. 12).  "We debate everything," Trump observed.  "We challenge everything.  We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves."

If these values of the West are defended, then, Trump declared at the end of his speech, "the West will never, ever be broken."

Although he did not exactly so it, Trump implied that he was putting forth a new slogan--"Make the West Great Again."

This is a remarkable speech for Trump because it truly does--as Masugi argues--strike the chords and themes of a Lincolnian rhetoric.  And against Burt, it even suggests the principles of Kantian liberalism--equality of human rights promoted by a community of nations.

But then we must wonder--how do we resolve the apparent contradiction between the Teleprompter Trump of this elegantly written and thoughtfully composed speech and the Turbulent Trump who goes on incoherent rants full of lies, insults, grievances, and narcissistic boasting about himself as the "very stable genius"?

I have no good answer to that question.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roger Scruton, 1944-2020: The Romantic Conservatism of Atheistic Religiosity

Roger Scruton died on Sunday at his home in England at the age of 75.  This picture was taken in 2016 when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.  The Washington Post has a good obituary.

Scruton was the preeminent conservative philosopher of his time.  During Margaret Thatcher's years as Prime Minister, he was often identified as her "court philosopher."  But he denied that he had much influence over her because her conservatism was more of the Hayekian free-market variety that was very different from his Kirkian traditionalist conservatism.

As is often true of the traditionalist conservative thinkers today, his thought was shaped by the Kantian Romantic tradition of the Nineteenth Century that saw a religious attitude as essential for a healthy moral order, so that traditional religious experience needed to be defended against a Darwinian science that claims to explain the place of human beings in the natural world without any reference to a transcendent realm beyond nature.  And yet--again like many traditionalist conservatives--Scruton did not believe in the literal truth of Christianity or any other religion.  He wanted to have a sense of the sacred that comes from religious emotions as expressed in great art, but without the need to believe any religious doctrines.  We know that God is dead, he suggested, but we also know that human beings need to satisfy their religious longings for transcendence and redemption.  In that way, he followed the lead of Friedrich Nietzsche in his early and late writings (as opposed to the Darwinian liberalism of his middle writings).

In various posts (here, here, and here), I have criticized the atheistic religiosity of Scruton's conservatism as incoherent self-deception.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Gay Marriage and the Evolution of Human Sexuality

This fertilization of a woman's egg by a man's sperm might be seen as showing why the evolution of human sexuality has made the female human nature and the male human nature so different.  But then we must wonder whether gay men and lesbians show this same male/female difference, or whether homosexuality is itself a distinct human nature. And if so, does this mean that homosexual marriages must differ by nature from heterosexual marriages?

The evolution of mammalian reproduction through male insemination of a female and the internal fertilization of the female's egg inside her body means that the minimum parental investment of a mother is usually much greater than the minimum parental investment of a father, which creates a difference on average in the natural mating desires of males and females.  Throughout the evolutionary history of our human ancestors, women had to invest in each offspring at least nine months of pregnancy and many months if not years of nursing and caring for the infant, while men could potentially impregnate many women without any additional investment in the developing fetus or the newborn child.  Men can increase the number of their offspring by promiscuous mating, but women cannot.

If Robert Trivers (1972) is right in his Darwinian theory of mating strategies as determined by parental investment, we should expect that women will typically be more selective than men in choosing mates, and women will typically desire mates with resources that can support her and her children.

David Buss (2016) and others have surveyed the mating preferences of people around the world, and they have found that men prefer to mate with women who are young and physically attractive, while women prefer to mate with men who have economic resources and high social status.  Since the reproductive success of a man depends predominantly on the fertility of his mate, Darwinian theory predicts that the visual cues to fertility in nubile women--such as youth, smooth skin, luscious hair, regular facial features, and good body tone--are sexually attractive to men around the world.  Since the reproductive success of a woman depends predominantly on the ability and willingness of her mate to invest resources in her and her children, we can predict that the social cues to such resources in men--such as wealth, status, older age, and ambition--are sexually attractive to women around the world.

These natural differences in the mating preferences of men and women create conflicts of interests--the battle of the sexes.  Lifelong monogamous marriage is an attempt to strike a truce in that battle by finding a mutually beneficial compromise in which neither sex exploits the other.  A monogamous marriage benefits the wife because her husband agrees to invest emotionally and materially in her and in any children they produce without diverting his resources to other sexually attractive women.  A monogamous marriage benefits the husband because his wife agrees to give him faithful attachment and exclusive sexual access to her, so that he need not suffer from sexual jealousy, and he can be sure that his parental investment is going to his own children and not to children sired by another man.  In this way, her reproductive success becomes his, and vice versa.  For this to work, the man must sacrifice his natural male desire for sexual variety to satisfy his natural desires for conjugal bonding and parental care.  Turning away from the reproductive strategy of maximizing the quantity of his offspring through promiscuous mating, he must follow the reproductive strategy of maximizing the quality of those few offspring who benefit from his intensive paternal care.

If this Darwinian account of the natural sex differences between men and women, and of how heterosexual marriage forces a compromise of these differences, is correct, then we should see confirmation for this in the sex lives of homosexuals.  In The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979), Donald Symons observed:
"There is no reason to suppose that homosexuals differ systematically from heterosexuals in any way other than sexual object choice . . . . I have argued that male sexuality and female sexuality are fundamentally different, and that sexual relationships between men and women compromise these differences; if so, the sex lives of homosexual men and women--who need not compromise sexually with members of the opposite sex--should provide dramatic insight into male sexuality and female sexuality in their undiluted states.  Homosexuals are the acid test for hypotheses about sex differences in sexuality" (292).
"Homosexual men behave in many ways like heterosexual men, only more so, and lesbians behave like heterosexual women, only more so" (304).
Here and throughout his book, Symons assumed that while heterosexual men and women manifested different human natures as shaped by the evolution of different reproductive strategies,  homosexual men and women did not show any evolutionarily distinct homosexual nature.  But in doing that, he left his readers wondering how homosexuality could have evolved as part of human nature if in fact homosexuality reduces reproductive fitness.  He offered no solution to what I have called the Darwinian puzzle of homosexuality (here).

Symons saw evidence that homosexuals show the natural male-female differences in many respects--including sexual arousal by visual stimuli, the promiscuous seeking of sexual variety, and the importance of physical attractiveness for sexual desirability.  As one indication of this difference, lesbians have no interest in the female nudity displayed in men's magazines like Playboy. And while the male nudity in a magazine like Playgirl is supposed to appeal to heterosexual women, there is reason to believe that the primary audience for Playgirl is homosexual men.

Like heterosexual men, gay males have a natural propensity for seeking out new sexual partners for one night stands.  And for both straight and gay men, purely physical attractiveness is their primary concern.  That's why homosexual men are so careful about their looks--with a emphasis on good grooming, nice clothes, and physical fitness--because they are like heterosexual women in that they can seduce men only if they are physically attractive.  And looking youthful is paramount, which is why gay men are like heterosexual women in their dread of ageing.

Unlike gay men, Symons argued, lesbians are like heterosexual women in that while the physical attractiveness of potential mates is important, at least as important is social intimacy with their mate.  As Symons put it, "among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex" (301).

Symons suggested: "heterosexual men would be as likely as homosexual men to have sex most often with strangers, to participate in anonymous orgies in public baths, and to stop off in public restrooms for five minutes of fellatio on the way home from work if women were interested in these activities.  But women are not interested" (300).

Symons implied that the institution of heterosexual marriage is an unnatural constraint on male desires imposed by women to satisfy female desires.  Symons is wrong about this, because despite the conflict between male and female desires, there is a fundamental complementarity in their desires for the stable arrangements of marriage and family life.  Even Symons recognized this complementarity in a few passages of his book.  "The desire for sexual variety," he wrote, "dooms most human males to a lifetime of unfulfilled longing; when the desire can be satisfied easily, as among many homosexual men, it often frustrates the satisfaction of other desires, such as those for intimacy and security" (228).

If marriage did not satisfy male desires, it would not be a universal practice of all societies.  If most men found the institution of marriage ultimately unsatisfactory, they would have abolished it long ago.  They have always had the power to do so, because every human society has been ruled by men.

Beginning as early as the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, some homosexuals began arguing for legalizing homosexual marriages as a way of providing social encouragement for homosexual monogamy, although some conceded that monogamous commitment is usually easier for lesbians than for gay men.  And yet many in the gay community have scorned the idea of gay marriage as contrary to the liberationist culture of gay life that should challenge the stultifying bourgeois norms of traditional marriage (Frank 2017).

The first governmental legalization of gay marriage occurred in the Netherlands in 2001, which was followed by some other European countries.  In the United States, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003 through a decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health).  By the spring of 2015, 37 states allowed gay marriage; and at the end of June of that year, the Supreme Court of the United States declared gay marriage to be a constitutional right in Obergefell v. Hodges.  (I have written about Obergefell in June and July of 2015 and March and April of 2019).

So now, for the first time in human history, we are experimenting with legalized same-sex marriage.  The experiment will determine its success or failure.

Based on my argument for the Darwinian natural law of gay marriage--that it can satisfy the same natural desires for conjugal bonding and parental care that are satisfied in heterosexual marriage--I can predict at least partial success:  some gays (though maybe not most) will marry and sustain long-term monogamous commitments, but this will be more successful among lesbian couples than gay male couples; and many of these same-sex marriages will include parental care of children.  The critical question is what proportion of the gay male couples will manage to constrain the gay male propensity to promiscuous infidelity.

Depending on how one looks at it, we already have one case of a gay male couple that has been legally married for 48 years, and some historians consider them to be the first same-sex couple in history to be legally married.  On May 18, 1970, Michael McConnell and Jack Baker arrived at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to apply for a marriage license.  Baker was a first-year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School, and he had noticed that the Minnesota statute on marriage licenses did not require that applicants identify their sex.  Having learned in law school the principle that "whatever isn't prohibited by law is permitted," he told McConnell that they had the legal right to marry in Minnesota.  When they arrived at the courthouse, news reporters and photographers were there, because they had alerted the press.  They wanted their filling out an application for a marriage license to be a public statement about the right of gays to marry (McConnell et al. 2016).

Gerald R. Nelson, clerk of district court, Hennepin County, refused to issue the marriage license.  A few months later, Baker filed for a writ of mandamus in Hennepin County District Court, which would have required the officials in Hennepin County to carry out their legal duties in issuing the marriage license.  Among their legal arguments, they claimed that if Minnesota law was interpreted as denying the right of gays to marry, this would violate the United States Constitution by denying them a fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment and by depriving them of liberty and property without due process and of the equal protection of the law, both guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.  In making these arguments, they knew that in the 1970s, a congressional statute said any interpretation of the federal constitution by a state court was entitled to automatic review by the U. S. Supreme Court.  So when the district court judge dismissed their case, they appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court; and when their constitutional arguments were denied by that court in 1971, they were entitled for review by the U. S. Supreme Court.  This was the case of Baker v. Nelson.

In the Appellant's Jurisdictional Statement, in 1972, the lawyers for Baker and McConnell defended their constitutional right to marry by indicating that same-sex marriage was similar to heterosexual marriage in promoting the two natural ends of marriage--conjugal bonding and parental care--and thus they implicitly made the same natural law argument for same-sex marriage that would be made by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.

To justify a governmental ban on same-sex marriage as consistent with the "equal protection of the laws" guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, the lawyers argued, the Supreme Court's equal protection doctrine would require "a legitimate government interest which is so compelling that no restrictive means can be found to secure that interest, if there is one, than to proscribe single sex marriages" (p. 15).  One possible legitimate interest for marriage law might be to make marriage turn on marriage partners being willing and able to procreate and raise children.  But this purpose cannot justify banning same-sex marriage.  they explained:  "There is nothing in the nature of single sex marriages that precludes procreation and child rearing.  Adoption is quite clearly a socially acceptable form of procreation.  It already renders procreative many marriages between persons of opposite sexes in which the partners are physically or emotionally unable to conceive their own children.  Of late, even single persons have become eligible to be adoptive parents" (pp. 14-15).

Actually, of course, the marriage law in Minnesota and other states validates the marriages of childless heterosexual couples, and thus it recognizes the conjugal bonding of a couple as a natural purpose of marriage that stands independently of parental care as a sufficient ground for marriage.  But then to allow marriage for childless heterosexual couples while denying it for childless same sex couples violates the constitutional standard of "equal protection of the laws."

In support of this conclusion, the lawyers for Baker and McConnell cited the Court's recent decision in Reed v. Reed, 92 S. Ct. 251 (1971), which struck down an Idaho statute, which provided that as between persons equally qualified to administer estates, males must be preferred to females, as an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The lawyers quoted from that decision:
"In applying that clause, this Court has consistently recognized that the Fourteenth amendment does not deny to States the power to treat different classes of persons in different ways. [Citations omitted.]  The Equal Protection Clause of that Amendment does, however, deny to States the power to legislate that different treatment be accorded to persons placed by a statute into different classes on the basis of criteria wholly unrelated to the objective of that statute.  A classification 'must be reasonable, not arbitrary, and must rest upon some ground of difference having a fair and substantial relation to the object of the legislation, so that all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike.'  Royster Guano Co. v. Virginia, 253 U.S. 412, 415 (1920)."
Since childless same sex couples are "similarly circumstanced" to childless heterosexual couples, they must be treated alike.  They must have an equal right to marry, because they are equal in their need for marriage to secure their natural desire for conjugal bonding: "how better may two people pledge love and devotion to one another than by marriage" (p. 7).

In their Appellee's Motion to Dismiss Appeal and Brief (Baker v. Nelson [1972], no. 71-1027), the lawyers for Hennepin County made six arguments for dismissing the appeal.  Their first argument was that this case did not present "a substantial federal question," because the power to regulate marriage was exclusively a power of the states, and therefore beyond the authority of the national government.  This turned out to be the decisive argument for the Court, because a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun drafted a one-sentence rejection of the appeal that was approved by the Court:  "The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question" (Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 [1972]).  Years later, the man who had been Blackmun's law clerk in 1972 said "I just didn't think the Court was ready at the time to take on the issue" (Bravin 2015).  In subsequent years, this was cited by opponents of same sex marriage as a decisive precedent of the Court allowing states to ban same sex marriage.  Overruling this decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.  No longer may this liberty be denied to them.  Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled, and the State laws challenged by Petitioners in these cases are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples form civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples."

The second argument for dismissing the appeal was that the right to marry was not in fact being withheld from either Baker or McConnell, because each was free to marry as long as they married someone of the opposite sex (p. 5).  But this ignored the fact that the Court had rejected a similar argument a few years earlier in Loving v. Virginia (1967), when Virginia's law against interracial marriage was declared an unconstitutional violation of equal protection, which rejected the specious argument of the lawyers for the state of Virginia that blacks and whites had an equal right to marry as along as they married someone of the same race as they.  And, indeed, the lawyers for Baker and McConnell stressed the importance of the Loving decision in showing how the equal protection doctrine should uphold the constitutional right  not only to interracial marriages but also to same-sex marriages.  To refute this reasoning, one would have to show that while interracial marriages do not subvert the natural purposes of marriage, same-sex marriages do.

This points to the third argument for dismissing the appeal--the claim that same-sex marriage would "defeat and destroy" the institution of marriage (p. 6).  This claim has been developed by many of the opponents of same-sex marriage--such as Maggie Gallagher and Hadley Arkes.  Arkes has said: "It is not marriage that domesticates men; it is women" (1993).  Marriage domesticates men when they marry women, not when they marry other men.  If Symons is right about the socially destructive natural propensity of men to promiscuity, then heterosexual monogamous marriage is good for men and for social order generally because it forces men to constrain their restless desire for sexual variety by compromising with the demands of women for monogamous permanence and fidelity.  If "marriage equality" means that same-sex and opposite-sex unions are treated equally as marriages, then this is based on a lie about human nature--the lie that there is no natural difference between a union of two men or two women and a union of a man and a woman.  In fact, few male same-sex couples adhere to the norm of monogamous fidelity because they are free from the constraints of female sexuality.  Stretching the definition of marriage to include the same-sex marriage of men will therefore destroy the heterosexual marital norm of monogamous fidelity and permanence (Corvino and Gallagher 2012, 129-149).

But as John Corvino and others have noted, this ignores the fact that lesbian couples do seem to have a strong natural propensity to monogamous stability.  If it's good to marry a woman, it must be even better for women to marry other women!  Gallagher concedes this when she cites research showing "that whereas monogamy is correlated with relationship satisfaction for heterosexuals and lesbians--that is, having monogamy is associated with being in a happy relationship--for gay men, there's no association between sexual exclusivity and the satisfaction of the relationship" (Corvino and Gallagher 2012, 135).

So should we legalize heterosexual marriages and lesbian marriages, while banning gay male marriages, because legally recognizing the marriage of men would endorse male promiscuity and thus destroy the traditional norm of monogamy for marriage?  Or should we agree with Corvino that while we must grant that "on average, sexual exclusivity appears less important for gay men's relationship success (longevity, satisfaction, etc.) than it does for that of heterosexuals or lesbians," inferring from this that legalizing gay male marriage would destroy the norm of monogamous marriage is both implausible and unjust?

It is empirically implausible to claim that the traditional norm of life-long monogamous fidelity will be destroyed if we legalize gay male marriages, some of which will not be strictly monogamous.  Given the small number of gay men, and the much larger number of heterosexual men, there are probably many more heterosexual couples who become "swingers" in "open marriages" than there are promiscuous gay men.  And yet even with the large number of heterosexual people who ignore the norm of sexual exclusivity, monogamous fidelity is still for most people a marital norm, if only as an ideal often violated in practice.

It is also unjust to deny gays the right to marry because some gay couples will fail to be monogamous.  This is unjust because many heterosexual married couples choose not to embrace sexual fidelity as a norm for them, and yet they are just as truly married as any other legally married couple.  And, again, it is unjust to use the gay male propensity to promiscuity as a reason to deny the right to marry to lesbian couples who might enforce sexual exclusivity in their marriage, or to those gay male couples who do strive for monogamous fidelity.

Nevertheless, one might question the relevance of such moral arguments to the constitutional standards enforced by the Supreme Court.  And, indeed, the fourth argument of the lawyers in Baker v. Nelson for dismissing the appeal of Baker and McConnell was that there was no clear language in the Constitution of the United States giving homosexuals the right to marry.  The lawyers wrote: "The framers of our Constitution and the statesmen of the States of the Union ratifying the same, would have never conceived that the protections which were afforded the people under this historic document would ever be utilized in such a way as to bring about the result sought by the appellants herein" (p. 8).  This is undoubtedly true--that those who framed and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment never intended or anticipated that the guarantee of "equal protection" would be interpreted to mean that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.  But it could also be said that they would never have foreseen that the Fourteenth Amendment would be read as striking down state laws banning interracial marriage as unconstitutional, as was done in Loving v. Virginia, a decision favorably cited by the lawyers arguing against the claims of Baker and McConnell.  Even if the decision in Loving cannot be grounded in the original understanding of those who framed and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it can be grounded in the original meaning of the words "equal protection of the laws" in that amendment, because we can see how laws prohibiting interracial marriage deprive interracial couples of equal protection in a way that does not rationally serve any legitimate interest of state government.  Similarly, we can see how laws prohibiting same-sex marriages deprive homosexual couples of equal protection in an arbitrary way that does not have any rational relation to any proper purpose of government.

The fifth argument against the appeal of Baker and McConnell invoked religious belief.  "Our country, and our Constitution, were founded upon basic religious principles and one of the most basic of such principles is that marriage is an institution ordained by God and that such institution is to be entered into by a man and a woman as husband and wife."  The lawyers for the appellees do not explain, however, where exactly those religious principles enter the Constitution.  Nor do they respond to the claim of the lawyers for Baker and McConnell that hostility to homosexuality in the Bible shows an unreasonable prejudice against homosexuals that has no constitutional status.

The final argument against Baker and McConnell's appeal points to one of the most peculiar facets of this case.  The questions raised by this appeal are said to be moot, because while Baker and McConnell claim they have been denied the right to marry, they did in fact marry each other on September 3, 1971, about six weeks before the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against their appeal!

This marriage was made possible by some clever legal maneuvering by Baker and McConnell.  When they realized that adoption would give them about 90 percent of the benefits of marriage, because the adoptee becomes part of a family, they arranged to have Baker adopted by McConnell.  Also, in the process of adoption, they changed Jack Baker's name to Pat Lyn McConnell, so that the gender free name "Pat Lyn" would make it harder to identify them as two men when they applied for a marriage license.  They then moved for a short time to Mankato, Minnesota, in Blue Earth County, where they applied and received a marriage license for Michael McConnell and Pat Lyn McConnell on August 9, 1971.  They married a month later in Minneapolis.  They could then claim that when the state supreme court later ruled against their Hennepin County license, this would not deny the legality of their wedding.

In their book about their life, published in 2016, six months after the Obergefell ruling, McConnell and Baker tell the story of a marriage that has now lasted for 48 years.  While recognizing that most gay men seek only short-term relationships, they decided that they would be one of those few gay male couples who would make a lifelong commitment to one another.  They admit, however, that they did not see this marital commitment to one another as requiring sexual exclusivity.  They agreed that they would be free to date other men (McConnell et al. 2016, 15, 38-39, 50-51).  Here then they confirmed Symons' point about the promiscuity of male homosexual sexuality.  But they also indicate that as they grew older, the gay bars and bathhouses were less appealing to them, and they settled into a largely monogamous marriage lasting a lifetime.  They thus achieved the first natural end of marriage--conjugal bonding, or what Corvino has called the "mutual lifelong caregiving" function of marriage (Corvino and Gallagher 2012, 14-18).

                                      A Video on the Gay Marriage of McConnell and Baker

They also sought the second natural end of marriage--the parental care of children.  For over two years, they tried to adopt a child.  They decided that they would be open to adopting any child under the age of 6, even one that might need special care.  But when all of their applications at the adoption agencies failed, they finally decided that their marriage would be childless.

Michael McConnell and Jack Baker have not achieved the ideal marriage of a couple with lifelong perfect monogamy and the rearing of children.  But it's hard to believe--as many opponents of same-sex marriage would say--that this is not a "real marriage."


Appellant's Jurisdictional Statement, Baker v. Nelson, U.S. Supreme Court docket no. 71-1027.

Appellee's Motion to Dismiss Appeal and Brief, Baker v. Nelson, U.S. Supreme Court docket no. 71-1027.

Arkes, Hadley. 1993. "The Closet Straight." National Review, July 5.

Bravin, Jess. 2015. "Supreme Court Clerk Remembers First Same-Sex Marriage Case." The Wall Street Journal, May 1.

Buss, David. 2016. The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. Revised and updated edition. New York: Basic Books.

Corvino, John, and Maggie Gallagher. 2012. Debating Same-Sex Marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Frank, Nathaniel. 2017. Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McConnell, Michael, Jack Baker, and Gail Langer Karwoski. 2016. The Wedding Heard 'Round the World: America's First Gay Marriage. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Symons, Donald. 1979. The Evolution of Human Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Trivers, Robert. 1972. "Parental Investment and Sexual Selection." In Bernard Campbell, ed., Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, 1871-1971, 136-79. Chicago: Aldine.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Edward Westermarck: The First Sociobiologist and Proponent of Darwinian Natural Right

I have often written on this blog about how Edward Westermarck has influenced my thinking about sociobiology and Darwinian natural right--particularly, through his theory of incest avoidance (herehereherehere, and here).  Now, I am thinking more about this after reading Stephen Sanderson's paper--"Edward Westermarck: The First Sociobiologist"--in the Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society (2018), edited by Rosemary Hopcroft, pp. 63-86.  This paper can be found online.

Sanderson is a sociologist who is one of the few sociologists who has argued for founding sociology on a biological science of human nature.  (I wrote a series of posts on Sanderson's work in April and May of 2016.)  His paper presents Westermarck as the most unfairly neglected sociologist who showed how a Darwinian science of human social behavior could deepen sociology as a true science.  He explains how sociologists today mostly ignore Westermarck, because they have embraced the position of Emile Durkheim--one of Westermarck's opponents--that social life can only be explained through environmentalism and social determinism, which requires a rejection of any Darwinian science of human nature.  This Durkheimian scorn for the biological basis of social life explains why so few sociologists today are open to sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.

In his attempt to revive Westermarck's Darwinian thinking in the social sciences, Sanderson explains how Westermarck's accounts of the evolutionary history of human marriage (including the incest taboo) and of human moral psychology were ahead of his time in anticipating the work of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology over the past 50 years.

In doing this, Sanderson identifies me as one of the scholars developing a Darwinian understanding of human morality in the tradition of Westermarck.  He rightly sees that Westermarck's Darwinian account of morality as rooted in evolved human emotions was a denial of Kant's transcendentalist rationalism in ethics.  Contrary to Kant, reason by itself never moves us to act.  In our mental and moral life, the intellect is how, the emotions why.  I have elaborated that point in various posts (here, here, here, and here).

Sanderson summarizes and apparently accepts my defense of Darwinian natural right as founded on 20 natural desires.  (I have written about Sanderson's Darwinian account of the natural desires here.)

But then he cannot accept my defense of "Darwinian conservatism."  He writes:
"I do not intend to be presenting Arnhart's conservative political philosophy, as represented in the previously presented five principles, as 'correct.' I simply offer it as a leading example of an attempt to ground a moral philosophy in Darwinian theoretical principles.  As one might imagine, nearly all those on the political Left are anti-Darwinian with respect to moral and political philosophy.  There is the occasional exception, however (e.g., Peter Singer's book A Darwinian Left [1999]).  Westermarck himself was a liberal" (note 4).
Sanderson does not mention my critique of Singer's Darwinian Left in Darwinian Conservatism or my general arguments against attempts to enlist Darwinian science in support of socialism (here and here).

In saying that "Westermarck himself was a liberal," Sanderson intimates that he agrees with Antti Lepisto's claim that Westermarck would not have agreed with Darwinian conservatism, because Westermarck often took a liberal or reformist position on marriage and family life, as in his arguing for liberalizing marriage and family law to make divorce easier, and in his generally tolerant attitude towards homosexuality.  But as I have said in response to Lepisto (here), my Darwinian conservatism is a liberal conservatism that embraces the classical liberalism of Locke, Smith, and Hayek; and such classical liberalism can be supported by a Darwinian science of morality and social order.  Westermarck's classical liberalism is suggested by his adoption of Adam Smith's ideas in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Gini Coefficients for Inequality in Locke's State of Nature and Lockean Liberal Orders

In various posts (here and here), I have argued that the Darwinian science of human evolutionary history largely confirms John Locke's view of the state of nature as the natural condition of equal liberty, while also confirming (here) that Lockean liberal social orders can approximate that equal liberty that human beings enjoyed in the state of nature.

Over the past 10 years, Darwinian social scientists have brought more precision to the empirical study of the evolutionary history of inequality by finding ways to calculate the Gini coefficients for inequality in human societies over the past 10,000 years; and this new research supports the Lockean liberal account of human history.

The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of the distribution of income or wealth in a society that ranges from 0 (every individual or household has exactly the same amount) to 1 (one individual or household owns all of the income or wealth, and others have nothing).  (The Wikipedia article on the Gini coefficient is a good survey.)  Gini coefficients below 0.30 are considered indicators of extremely low inequality.  Gini numbers above 0.50 are indicators of extremely high inequality.  So, for example, if the richest 20% have 80% of all income, that would count as an income Gini coefficient of 0.60.  That's the income Gini number for Haiti, which is one of the highest in the world.  The number for the U.S.A is in the middle--0.40.  The lowest numbers are usually for the Nordic social democracies--such as Denmark, Norway, and Finland--which are around 0.24.

Monique Borgerhoff Mulder and her colleagues (2009) have calculated Gini coefficients for 21 historical and contemporary small-scale populations based on ethnographic data.  Timothy Kohler and his colleagues (2017) have calculated Gini coefficients for 63 archaeological sites based on archaeological data.

The 21 societies studied by Borgerhoff Mulder and her coauthors included hunter-gatherer, horticultural, pastoral, and agricultural societies.  They calculated the intergenerational transfer of three kinds of wealth--material (such as household goods, land, and livestock), embodied (such as strength, knowledge, and skills), and relational (such as the individual's position in social networks). They found that material wealth was more easily transmitted across generations, as compared with embodied or relational wealth.  And therefore there was more inequality in pastoral and agricultural societies where material wealth (such as livestock and land) was important, as opposed to foraging and horticultural societies, where material wealth was less important, and consequently there was less inequality.

They estimated Gini coefficients for wealth at 0.25 for hunter-gatherers, 0.27 for horticuluralists, 0.42 for herders, and 0.48 for farmers.  Hunter-gatherers typically have a strong egalitarian ethos, and they found that indeed their level of inequality is much lower than for other societies.  But, still, hunter-gatherers have never achieved absolute equality.  They found that among the foraging societies they examined, a child born into a family in the top 10% of wealth is 3-5 times as likely on average to remain at the top than is a child born into a family in the bottom 10%.

Locke recognized this because while he saw the American Indians in the state of nature as showing relative equality compared with other societies, he also saw that all human societies will have some inequality due to individual differences in age, birth, talents, social networks, and luck, which will make some individuals more highly ranked than others.  So, for example, among hunter-gatherers, some individuals would inevitably distinguish themselves as skillful hunters or as leaders of their groups.  Borgerhoff Mulder and her colleagues confirmed this, and concluded that those Marxist anthropologists who wanted to find "primitive communism" in foraging societies were mistaken (Smith et al. 2010, 31).

Nevertheless, the reputation of hunter-gatherers for being egalitarian is warranted when they are compared with herding and farming societies that have much higher Gini numbers.  And yet, among modern nation-states, those that have Lockean liberal social orders have lower inequality.  The United States has a slightly lower Gini number than the small-scale herding and farming societies.  And the Nordic capitalist welfare states have Gini numbers about the same as the foraging societies.  (I have written about the Nordic social democracies as liberal regimes here.)  This suggests that modern Lockean liberal social orders approximate the equal liberty of human beings in the state of nature.

There are, however, some difficulties in the research of Borgerhoff et al. that have been pointed out by critics.  First, their sample of foraging societies does not include those high-density sedentary coastal foragers with Chiefdoms--such as the Northwest Coast Indians, the Chumash, and the Calusa--who were known to have hereditary nobility and even slavery.

The second difficulty is that their ethnographic sample of foraging societies includes those like the Ache of Paraguay and the Hadza of Tanzania whose foraging life has been altered by contact with modern herding and farming societies.  For that reason, it might not be clear that these foraging societies are really representative of our original evolutionary ancestors (Caldararo 2011; Kelly 2010).  One can respond to this difficulty by pointing out that the Ache and the Hadza have not been completely assimilated into modern societies, and that ethnographers have been able to compile a record of their history before contact (Smith et al. 2011; Hill and Hurtado 1996; Marlowe 2010).  While it is true that people like the Ache and the Hadza are not "living fossils" who have been "frozen in time," it is also true that they at least resemble the societies of our ancient foraging ancestors.

Instead of relying on ethnographic studies of inequality in historical and contemporary populations, Kohler and his colleagues (2017) have gathered archaeological evidence from a sample of 63 sites or groups of sites on four continents dating from around 11,000 to about 2,000 years ago.  For their evidence of inequality, they use house size as a proxy for household wealth.  Measuring the relative sizes of houses as distributed over an archaeological site, they can measure the inequality manifested in the relative wealth of households with large houses versus households with smaller houses (Kohler and Smith 2018).

                             An excavated house at the El Palmillo archaeological site, Mexico

As expected, they found that hunter-gatherers had the lowest Gini coefficients (median = 0.17), the horticulturalists had higher numbers (median = 0.27), and farmers had the highest (median = 0.35).  They were surprised, however, to see that the wealth inequality tended to be higher in the Eurasian sites than in North America and Mesoamerica.  To explain this, they suggested that Eurasia had a greater availability of large mammals that could become domesticated draft animals that could be used for increasing agricultural production and extending the area of land in cultivation, which could have created greater concentrations of wealth in those who controlled this production.

Another possible explanation is that their sample of sites in the New World is slanted towards more egalitarian societies.  For example, they did not include any sites in South America, which could have included the Incan empire centered in Peru, which was probably one of the most unequal agrarian societies, in which llamas and alpacas were domesticated.

And while their Mesoamerican sample included the Mayan city of Tikal with a remarkably high Gini number of 0.62, it also included some cities with surprisingly low Gini numbers, such as Teotihuacan with a Gini of 0.12--lower even than that for the hunter-gatherers!  The archeology of Teotihuacan (AD 400-500) is hard to interpret.  It shows signs of autocratic rule--with its grand avenue and pyramids--but it also shows some signs of broad sharing of power--with a grid of roads, no very large royal palace, and many medium-sized houses.  Thus, pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica seems to exhibit two very different strategies for structuring power--either concentrating and centralizing power in the hands of a few kings and nobles or allowing for a collective holding of power by many individuals, including commoners (Blanton et al. 1996).

Until recent decades, it was common for archaeologists and anthropologists studying ancient Mesoamerica to assume that the prevailing model was the autocratic centralization of power, which ignored the fact that there was evidence in at least some archaeological sites for wide dispersal of power, and perhaps even in some cities something like republican or democratic rule.

I thought about this a few years ago when I was touring the ruins of Tikal, which show a palace facing onto a plaza with pyramids on the side.  It's easy to see the evidence of an hierarchical society ruled by kings, priests, and nobles exploiting the commoners.  Tikal reached the peak of its power in 200-900 AD as the capital of a conquest state.  But believing that human beings have an evolved disposition for freedom and resistance to dominance, I had to wonder whether there was any sign of free societies in Mesoamerica.

                                 Tikal the Capital of a State that Conquered Tributary Regions

I was intrigued, therefore, to learn about Tlaxcallan, which has been identified by some archaeologists as an ancient republic in Mesoamerica.  When Hernan Cortes first landed on the coast of Mexico in 1519, he heard about the powerful Aztec Empire under the rule of Moctezuma.  Marching his soldiers toward Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Empire, located where Mexico City is today, Cortes met resistance from some of the indigenous peoples, particularly the Tlaxcaltecas.  He learned that Tlaxcallan was a small polity not far from Tenochtitlan that had successfully resisted the attempts of the Aztecs to conquer them.  He finally persuaded the Tlaxcaltecas to become his allies in his campaign to defeat the Aztecs.  By 1521, the Aztecs were defeated, and Cortes claimed their Empire for Spain.  In his letters to Charles V, the King of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor, Cortes described the people of Mexico, and he identified the Tlaxcaltecas as a freedom-loving people:
"They had tried will all their forces both by day and by night to avoid being subject to anyone, for this province never had been, nor had they ever had an over-all ruler.  For they had lived in freedom and independence from time immemorial and had always defended themselves against the great power of Mutezuma and against his ancestors, who had subjugated all those lands but had never been able to reduce them to servitude, although they were surrounded on all sides" (Cortes 2001, 66).
He described their government as
"almost like that of the states of Venice or Genoa or Pisa, for they have no overlord.  There are many chiefs, all of whom reside in this city, and the country towns contain peasants who are vassals of these lords and each of whom holds his land independently; some have more than others, and for their wars they join together, and together they plan and direct them" (Cortes 2001, 68).
He also described their market-based economy with a marketplace where over 30,000 people come to buy and sell.

In recent years, archaeologists studying the archaeological sites of Tlaxcallan have seen evidence confirming Cortes's comparison of Tlaxcallan with the Renaissance Italian republics (Fargher et al. 2010a; Fargher et al. 2010b; Wade 2017). In contrast to the political structure of the Aztec Empire--with kingship vested in members of the nobility--the archaeologists have found signs in Tlaxcallan of government by a council with members recruited from the ranks of commoners.  The socioeconomic egalitarianism of the city is manifested in the urban layout of scattered public plazas next to modest houses rather than royal palaces.  The distribution of standardized apartment buildings for common citizens and the fact that the art does not depict individual leaders or dynasties suggest that power was widely shared, and so inequality was low.

I have written about my recent visit to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City (here).  One weakness in that museum's presentation of Mesoamerican history is that it displays the power of Moctezuma's autocratic rule over the Aztec Empire while remaining silent about Tlaxcallan's republican freedom and its denial of imperial rule, which expresses the evolved natural desire to be free from oppressive dominance.

Human nature was originally shaped in the hunter-gatherer state of nature that was a condition of equal liberty.  Consequently, we can expect that social orders that approach that original condition of equality and liberty will arise throughout human history.


Blanton, Richard E., et al. 1996. "A Dual-Processual Theory for the Evolution of Mesoamerican Civilization." Current Anthropology 37: 1-14.

Borgerhoff Mulder, Monique, et al. 2009. "Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and the Dynamics of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies." Science 326: 682-688.

Caldaro, Niccolo. 2011. "On the Use of Contemporary 'Hunters and Gatherers' as Models for Prehistoric Patterns of Wealth Distribution." Current Anthropology 52: 265.

Cortes, Hernan. 2001. Letters from Mexico. Trans. Anthony Pagden. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

Fargher, Lane F., Richard Blanton, and Verenice Heredia Espinoza. 2010a. "Egalitarian Ideology and Political Power in Prehispanic Central Mexico: The Case of Tlaxcallan." Latin American Antiquity 21: 227-251.

Fargher, Lane F., et al. 2010b. "Tlaxcallan: The Archaeology of an Ancient Republic in the New World." Antiquity 84: 1-15.

Hill, Kim, and A. Magdalena Hurtado. 1996. Ache Life History: The Ecology and Demography of a Foraging People. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Kelly, Robert L. 2010. "A Good Start." Current Anthropology 51: 109-110.

Kohler, Timothy A., et al. 2017. "Greater Post-Neolithic Wealth Disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica." Nature 551: 619-622.

Kohler, Timothy A., and Michael E. Smith. 2018. Ten Thousand Years of Inequality: The Archaeology of Wealth Differences.  Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Marlow, Frank W. 2010. The Hadza Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Smith, Eric Alden, et al. 2010a. "Reply." Current Anthropology 51: 119-126.

Smith, Eric Alden, et al. 2010b. "Production Systems, Inheritance, and Inequality in Premodern Societies." Current Anthropology 51: 85-94.

Smith, Eric Alden, et al. 2010c. "Wealth Transmission and Inequality among Hunter-Gatherers." Current Anthropology 51: 19-34.

Smith, Eric Alden, et al. 2011. "Wealth Inequality in Foraging, Horticultural, Pastoral, and Agricultural Populations: A Reply to Caldaro." Current Anthropology 52; 579-580.

Wade, Lizzie. 2017. "Unearthing Democracy's Roots." Science 355: 1114-1118.