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Home arrow History arrow Life History Evolution and Sociology: The Biological Backstory of Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010

What Are the Implications of Elite Migration and Isolation?

Initially facilitated by the college sorting machine, homogamy is then perpetuated by the bubble and the superzip. As with homogamy, the K selected also are naturally inclined toward the bubble15 described in Coming Apart. Think of Murray’s thesis in light of the K strategist’s innate inclination to act the part of the beaver, seeking and creating conducive environments. Prior to the college sorting machine and the presence of homogenous, contiguous and insular superzips, K strategists were interspersed more evenly across the general population. Educated and intelligent, religious and moral, altruistic and able, the K strategists blessed their communities with organization, rectitude, high culture, law and order, family structure, and like virtues. As described, they not only raised the mean but set and enforced social norms. In other words, they engaged heavily in aforementioned process of niche construction. They were trying, and largely succeeding, in creating predictable and orderly environments that were conducive to their slow life history strategy. In actualizing this selfish imperative, they helped the communities they lived in. By way of example, consider the thirty odd years that Benjamin Franklin graced early 18th-century Philadelphia. Exemplifying the slow life history, Franklin reacted against correlates of extrinsic mortality such as disease, the robbery of his home, the threat of the frontier, the specter of foreign invasion, and the burning of the southern end of town, by agitating for hospitals and refuse removal, instituting a night watch and lighted streets, organizing and serving in the state militia, submitting the Albany Plan of Union, and promoting fire brigades and fire insurance. At the same time, he actualized his inclination for social capital by contributing to the formation of his scholarly Junto, establishing subscription and lending libraries, and laying the groundwork for the American Philosophical Society and the University of Pennsylvania. Then London called, and Franklin left (Olson 2004; Houston 2008).16

With the college sorting machine and the presence of superzips, K strategists have an alternative. By attending the elite institution and moving to the elite neighborhood, they greatly reduce their efforts in niche construction, and instead, engage in the relatively easier process of niche seeking. Elites always engaged in both niche construction and niche seeking, but now it is possible to emphasize the latter over the former. They find their dam rather than build it. Elites are heading for London, to the detriment of Philadelphia. The American ethos is no longer reinforced by altruistic punishment and stigma. It is as Murray (2012, p. 294) charges: Elites no longer promulgate the norms they continue to profitably live by. They have abdicated this responsibility because migration has removed motivation.17 As Murray’s narrative explains, elite extremes of cultural tolerance and political correctness arose with isolation. Once isolated, elites could indulge in a postmodern egalitarianism that failed to champion K selective values. The social ramifications alone are concerning. Add to this the developmental nature oflife history evolution, which suggests a positive feedback loop wherein unstable neighborhoods comprised of r strategists will beget more and more r strategists, which will in turn beget additional instability. More than this, the genetic component oflife history evolution suggests a temporal stability in the differences that separate Fishtown from Belmont. Consequently, Murray might indeed have documented what will amount to a major force in the continuing evolution of a modern human population18; and one that will likely not be limited to the United States. The contiguity of superzips will function, in some small way, like the evolutionary process of drift, while the college degree and high paying job will remain the human social equivalent of the avian display of vivid color patches and full plumage. With several generations of homogamy, American life history variance, once distributed across a broad plateau, may grade toward two increasingly divergent bell curves.

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