Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hanson on Inequality

Robin Hanson has a new post about inequality:

He links to this older post:

And, both posts bring to mind one of my favorite older posts from Robin, which highlights the kind of intra-familial sharing politics that dominate life in a pre-capitalist context:

I suppose that, referring back to the first post, the tools of the nation state have caused national sharing signals to be more easily performed than the intra-familial signals of the hunter-gatherer clan in the third link.  In the national context, we can demonstrate our concern for the weak and our affiliation with a strong political faction without having to personally face down the target of our taking and without taking on any direct consequence.  This national factionalism has so dominated our quest for status that we have completely lost the shared norm of intra-family equality.  It's strange, really, that if we made the kinds of demands directly to a cousin or even a sibling that we commonly make on strangers in a national political context, it would seem outlandish to us.  The hunter-gatherers in the 3rd link would think we have lost our minds if they saw us demanding national redistribution while we visit our wealthy cousins without demanding a thing from them.

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