Monthly Archives: February 2014

Moral Sense Summarized – A Giant Brain – Part Three

You and I lug around a giant brain, a three pounder, packed with a hundred billion neurons, tens of trillions of synapses. Like language, it uses these vast but finite resources for infinite purposes. It is inexhaustibly creative – but only if given free rein, as happened, finally, in the 15th century with the invention of the printing press. Then it was off to the races. Here’s a fun overview of our brain’s power – set up banking, which made money our servant in the 16th century, mathematized gravity and the dynamics of our solar system in the 17th, changed the world with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th, brought the inexpressible comfort of anesthesia in the 19th, achieved mastery of solid-state physics in the 20th, then assembled computers magnitudes more complex than steam engines, models of inventiveness a mere few hundred years ago. In fact, from the printing press to my voice-activated computerized “secretary” took only 600 years. Suppose we give the Greeks the honor of firing up the brain. That’s two or three thousand years ago, a mere blink compared with the thousands of centuries of the Pleistocene.

What is the problem we are trying to solve? It’s a tough one. Except for the last 10,000 years, there is no written history of us hominids, so there goes 990,000 years, poof! gone and lost forever. Then how can we ever know, reliably, the conditions under which we evolved? How can we understand the history of prehistory, an oxymoron?

There is a way! You will need to make only one assumption and connect one dot. If you do, you will find yourself not looking through a “glass darkly,” but through a clear window, seeing the life of our remote ancestors. That window comes with a Time Machine attached. No longer than it takes you to read this post, 2000 centuries will roll by. Here’s the assumption:

We are much more human than otherwise.

The blond folks in Spitzbergen are much more like the black-haired folks in Tierra del Fuego than they are different. The same is true of hunter-gathers. They were much more like us than otherwise. They had the same giant brain, certainly for the last 200,000 years, or more than likely the last 500,000. Now roll the thousands of centuries of the Pleistocene through our “Window of Time.” Endless sameness! You’ve seen one tribe you’ve seen ’em all. Not a hint of change. Not a glimmer of originality. Same tool kit. Same miserable stone tools. What turned off the power of that gigantic brain that in only six hundred years went from the printing press to computers?

The Moral Sense.

In my last post I wrote, “For a million years, this unique biologic structure protected us puny individuals by herding us into one of two groups – Home Sweet Home and The Enemy, that is, all the rest. However, an enemy lurked also on the home turf – the individual. A group’s success required utter conformity from each member, tolerating only what was necessary for survival. For tens of thousands of generations,the Moral Sense hammered the individual into submission; through one million years of the Pleistocene, there is no trace of originality. Obviously, it succeeded at its one mission – survival.The Moral Sense kept everyone in line at home and, generation after generation, battled The Enemy out there, potentially all other groups.”

Now connect one dot.

The political structure of the Republican Right, since Obama became president, is more hunter-gatherer than otherwise.

Moral Sense Summarized – Etiology – Part Two

The Moral Sense is a biologic brain structure that evolved through natural selection. Darwin states that ” Any animal whatever, endowed with well marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man.”

A century earlier, David Hume stated that the “social virtues exercise a natural appeal to uninstructed mankind long before we receive a precept or education. A priori, it is impossible for such a creature as man to be totally indifferent to the well or ill-being of his fellow creatures. The useful tendency of the social virtues moves us not by any regards to self-interest, but has an influence much more universal and extensive.” Hume demonstrated that moral judgments derive from man’s nature and his dependence for survival on a group, findings dovetailing brilliantly with Darwin’s work that the Moral Sense is a product of natural selection and evolved incrementally.

Alfred Russell Wallace stated that man was “social and sympathetic by nature: early in the development of human societies the capacity for cooperation and sympathy which leaves all in turn to assist each other benefited each community and was favored by natural election.”

Pascal Boyer reports, “Experimental studies show a specialized moral sense underlies ethical intuitions in all children the world over. Neglected or abused children have similar intuitions.” The Moral Sense has nothing to do with the quality of early life experiences, benign or otherwise. For better or for worse, the Moral Sense JUST IS.

St. Paul observes, “The truth about God is known to mankind instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. They have no excuse for saying there is no God.”

“Knowledge in their hearts,” “social instincts,” “social virtues,” “moral sense,” refer to a system hardwired in the brain. Randal Keynes, grandson of John Maynard, states, “Darwin had found a way in which the human sense of right and wrong could be shown to have developed gradually and naturally from feelings that were part of the life of social animals.”

Hume provided philosophic reasoning for Darwin that the Moral Sense results from “material forces” alone, not from the workings of a deity. For a million years, this unique biologic structure protected us puny individuals by herding us into one of two groups – Home Sweet Home and The Enemy, that is, all the rest. However, an enemy lurked also on the home turf – the individual. A group’s success required utter conformity from each member, tolerating only what was necessary for survival. For tens of thousands of generations,the Moral Sense hammered the individual into submission; through one million years of the Pleistocene, there is no trace of originality. Obviously, it succeeded at its one mission – survival.The Moral Sense kept everyone in line at home and, generation after generation, battled The Enemy out there, potentially all other groups. In his magisterial work, The Better Angels of Our Nature, comfortingly counterintuitive, Steven Pinker reviews the level of violence evidenced in hunter-gatherer tribes -. at least five times greater than that of organized states.

I propose an experiment, YOU the fact-finder. My daughter lives in Toronto on the seventh floor. On Saturday, February 22nd, around midnight, she heard what sounded like rioting on the street. When she looked down, Toronto was going crazy. The town had gone bonkers. She knew immediately what had happened – the Canadian hockey team had won The Gold at the Olympics. Best of all, they had beaten the Americans, those arrogant bastards. Take THAT and THAT and THAT! Oh, if we only had some poisoned arrows.

Wait a minute! What’s this going-to-war madness? Remember the Greeks? It’s not a war – it’s a game!
Yeah, you forgot. How could you! Carrying on like Pleistocene killers. Now the truth is out. I never did buy that bullshit about the peace-loving-Canadians.

Do you?

The Moral Sense Summarized – Part One

During the million years we evolved from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens, we lived in survival mode. It was a full time job, 24/7/365. Our increasing brain complexity, unprecedented, evolved the Moral Sense to enforce group allegiance and its unwavering attention. When survival is at stake, a group closes ranks. Every member gets mobilized. The focus is entirely on the group, not the individual. No tolerance for dissent, no room for experimentation, all that matters is staying in one piece. We survived not because we bared big canines, like baboons. Nor by our brawn. Chimpanzees are three to four times more powerful, pound for pound. We have little speed, no venom, lack camouflage. We didn’t survive by our wits, either. We survived by pooling our wits. Getting thrown out by the group was tantamount to a death sentence, hence the terror when this punishment threatened. The group was our survival kit, its mission under the ruthless policing of the Moral Sense.

With the coming of agriculture and animal husbandry, for the first time in 2000 centuries we hominids had time and energy to set up a “work group,” something new under the sun. This astonishing organization pays no heed to the Moral Sense. Its business is problem-solving. It has no other interest. Initially, work groups slipped quietly onto the planet, only a pre-historic Francis Bacon recognizing that these neomorphs packed the power to change the world. Over time, more and more work groups popped up here and there, taking on ever more complex problems bedeviling the race. For the last 300 years, work groups have provided the greatest power on earth – Kitty Hawk in 1903 to commercial jets in the 1950’s, discovery of viruses in the early 20th century to the polio vaccine mere decades later, the configuration of DNA revealed in 1953 and half a century later the entire human genome.

A work group comes together to solve a specific problem, other than survival. It all begins with the insight of an individual, usually a counter-intuitive genius. No group is a source of creativity, a power potential granted, if at all, only to one person at a time. The framing of the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers is often cited as an example of alleged group creativity. In fact, a long line of individual geniuses provided the inspiration, the 55 members of the Miracle of 1787 the perspiration. Of course, the sweat of a group is a necessary partner to the work of a genius, as detailed by Thomas Kuhn.

When assessing a group, one begins with a diagnosis. For example, what is the diagnosis of the political group organized under present day Republicans? One starts by asking, “What is the work they have organized themselves to do?” The answer is given with either-or elegance because all work takes place under one of two masters –

One, with the Moral Sense as master, workers function under the conditions of a Moral Group.

Two, with Common Sense as master, workers function under the conditions of a Work Group.

Present-day Republicans work under the conditions of a Moral Group. Their work, defined by them publicly, is the repeal of Obamacare. In fact, Republicans, under the imperatives of the Moral Sense, work solely in opposition to any legislation proposed by the President. They recite a litany of his moral failings. Obama enables laziness and debilitating dependence. He aims to assume dictatorial powers. He violates the right to privacy spelled out by the Fourth Amendment. He tramples on the sacredness of religious faith. Under the policing of the Moral Sense, Republicans work while guided by two imperatives: they split the world in two, one bad, the other good; and they demand lock-step unanimity, defection resulting in exile engineered through Primary elections. So evil is Obama that John Boehner dare not even say the word, compromise.

Like Old Dutch Cleanser, Republicans work full-time chasing dirt.

Envy – Deconstructing the Moral – Part Twenty

Melanie Klein, arguably the most original thinker since Freud, defined envy – one of the Seven
Deadly Sins – as unappeasable hatred for another person who possesses something recognized as goodness, making its bearer a “Good Object.” Envy maddens madness in its utter intolerance of the Good Oject. It is obsessed with spoiling. It is driven by hate, hate multiplied, hate compounded, hate sinewed with malice. Spoiling is indifferent to personal survival. If envy brings about one’s own annihilation, so be it.

Envy is directed against one person, unlike jealousy which involves at least two others. Jealousy is the “green-eyed monster” and itself is no slouch when it comes to wrecking the neighborhood. Jealousy drove Othello to murder Desdemona. What Shakespeare recognized, however, is the immense suffering experienced with jealousy. It brings love to the breaking point. Love remains a major player. Not so for envy, the “parent of all other sins.” Envy is as hard-hearted as granite, contemptuous of suffering. Cruel and remorseless, eager sponsor of torture and the rack, it pursues its quarry by day and by night, caring not a fig for its own survival, repelled by goodness as the devil by the Cross.

For the past three years, envy has driven The Right mad, providing breathtaking data. Envy, the “parent of all sins,” has denuded their humanity. Their one mission has been to destroy Obama, the bearer of Obamacare. For all the vividness of their crazed behavior it still blows the mind, even as it gets paraded under our very eyes. Why? Pathognomonic of envy is its utter mindlessness. Envy defies common sense. It makes mockery of sound judgment. Hannah Arendt said that Mind manifests three powers, the power to Think, the power to Will and the power to Judge. The hatred fueling envy destroys the power of judgment. Doesn’t anyone in his right mind recognize that medical coverage for the uninsured is a good thing? Elementary! Yet more than 40 times the Republican House voted to repeal The Affordable Care Act which provides healing care for millions.

“They did what? No! the hell you say. Have they lost their mind”

– Exactly. Envy blinds them, strips away their power of judgment. Republican governors deny medical care to 5.6 million uninsured. Pure madness, resulting in six unnecessary deaths each day as a consequece.

“That’s murder.”

The House conducted little other business for the past three years, focused solely on spoiling the goodness of the Affordable Care Act, a magnificent instrument of Care. Against the most violent opposition, at the very beginning of his Presidency, Obama exercised his powers by providing Care for his people. Sanity, on the other hand, came late to King Lear. Naked under the howling heavens, battered by a raging storm, Lear canceled his membership in the GOP by recognizing the responsibilities of government and its power for goodness:

Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O! I have ta’en
Too little care of this!

Envy drives the bizarre mindlessness laying seige to Obamacare. What sense does it make to vote for its repeal forty times? or The Right’s blatant falsification of data? or seizing “average expectable” problems during the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act as fatal flaws? None. Envy has but one mission: destroy. It is the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Hate on Steroids – Deconstructing the Moral – Part Nineteen

The intensity of hate for Obama is not unprecedented, but close. Lincoln took any number of vicious kicks to the solar plexus; Roosevelt famously welcomed the hated of the Wall Street bankers. With a black President, racism is a given, a reality increasingly apparent since his election to a second term. I’ve seen racism up close and personal. I served as a country doc in the deep South at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. My clinic came with a waiting room for blacks and a separate one for whites. My proposal to level the playing field made racism terrifyingly visible, unleashing a monster bequeathed by a brutal antiquity. I had one thought, “They’re talking murder!” I wasn’t lynched. I am white. Imagining I was black under these circumstances presented an unthinkable thought. The other day, a white citizen told her congressman that Obama, President of the United States of America, is an outlaw and should be executed. Her representative in Washington agreed he is an outlaw.

With Obama, racism is only part of the story. Something new has been added: a steroid has come into his Presidency that makes understandable Republican self-destructive behavior. Like Lance Armstrong’s blood-cell-packing that went undetected through seven Tours, Obama, willy-nilly, puts racism on steroids. To my knowledge, despite being screened in every political lab, his “doping” remains as hidden as Dark Matter, its consequences unrecognized. We’ll connect the dots by running an experiment.

Imagine a Group with the demographic distribution of the Right Side of the Aisle. Its members have an uncanny ability to recognize non-kin. It’s their speciality, a gift that goes back generations. Sorting through the waves of immigrants that came to our shores kept The Right busy. Even though immigrants by definition arrived as strangers, the non-kin status of Irish and Germans and Slovaks and all the others became less pronounced over time. Hell, by and by, even the Jews looked almost like the rest. The great melting pot made room for them all.

Alas, then there’s the blacks. The tragic exception. Forever non-kin. A race apart. The Right Side of the Aisle whispers, “Black will never wash off. They’ll never look like us. Nor their facial features soften. They came out of Africa, the Dark Continent. Even Abraham Lincoln wanted to send them back. The Founding Fathers graded them three-fifths human. They were not so far off, but that’s strictly off the record. True, the Negro race dominates the sports world. Even college quarterbacks are black these days. We don’t begrudge them recognition. It’s their “otherness,” that’s the problem. Sounds brutal, but for ages on end they lived as jungle bunnies.”

And, then, one day, out of this inferior race, his father no less from Kenya, a man called Barack appeared, borne aloft by thunderbolts, speaking with the tongue of an angel. The entire nation listened in rapt attention. The folks from The Right huddled together in whispered awe, as Barack’s thunder pealed across the sky. His color ebony, his face chiseled as though of marble, his smile lit up the country. His rhetorical repertoire was a miracle of virtuosity. He stood head and shoulders above every politician in the land. And HE was elected President. Twice.

So? The Right insists that when all the hoopla settles down, these wonders won’t change his status of non-kin. He remains, now and forever, irremedially, a black man, and hated with the fury the Moral Sense unleashed on the planet for ten thousand centuries against non-kin. Time passed. And by and by emerged a mystery, a pattern that made no sense at all politically. The Right began to self-destruct, alienating women, Latinoes, union workers, constituencies they absolutely needed to survive. Made no difference, whatever legislation Obama proposed, they categorically opposed, ignoring the fact that by so doing they were going down in flames. What had happened?

The Moral Sense added envy to their hatred.

Hatred driven by envy puts hatred on steroids. It surpasses racism in fury. Hatred and envy make visible the burning lake and the sulphur. They talk the talk of mutual annihilation. “Whatever the cost, we will destroy your Presidency. We will silence your damnable rhetoric. We will oppose unemployment insurance, immigration reform, infrastructure repair, head start funding, renewable energy research. We will rip off that maddening smile. We will cut out your tongue.”

A politician as immensely gifted as Obama comes along only once or twice a century. Willy-nilly, he is forever a black man, and, willy-nilly, works at the confluence of racism and hatred amped by envy.

The Whole Way – Deconstrcting the Moral – Part Eighteen

When struggling to make sense out of political behavior, Thomas Paine believed we can truly understand it only by seeing where it came from. “The error of those who reason by precedents drawn from antiquity is that they don’t go far enough. They do not go the whole way.” The whole way takes us beyond history to nature. That would get Darwin’s attention. By contrast, Edmund Burke believed all human beings enter a world that already exists. “Dark and inscrutable are the ways by which we come into this world. Out of physical causes, unknown to us, arise moral duties.” Stunningly, he recognizes “moral duties” have evolved from physical causes.

Today we know the Moral Sense evolved through natural selection and is part of our biologic heritage. I agree with Paine. If we go back to antiquity far enough, that will help us understand the inscrutable ways of the Republican Right. For example, disregarding common decency, last week the Tea Party voted against unemployment insurance on moral grounds. “Marshall all the facts you want,” they pontificated. “Long-term unemployment insurance invites laziness and infantilizing dependence on the State. The same is true for food stamps.” Remarkably, they carry out these cruelties in broad daylight, without batting an eye. For them, the unemployed and the poor are non-kin. Under that judgment, anything goes. In fact, genocide is always in the air when dealing with those outside the tribal circle. They threaten survival. It’s Us vs.Them.

In my last post, when Bruce Bartlett cries out, “Honest to God, I am not a Democrat,” he is pleading that despite his apostasy on economics he is still kin. “Please don’t send me into exile. Talk to me.” Between these wails from Bruce the Apostate I hear echoes from the Pleistocene, “I ask you for forgiveness.” Alas, the Moral Sense turns a blank stare on mercy. I caught that stare the other day on C-SPAN, during the vote on food stamps. Gave me the shivers. For thousands of centuries, the implacable Moral Sense exploited our vulnerabilty that conscience can make cowards of us all. Anyone challenging the received wisdom of the group was declared a heretic and given the bum’s rush. Survival demanded it. The Moral Sense saw to it.

The very day our black President was inaugurated in 2009, the Republican Right, including Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell, that very night plotted the destruction of his presidency. In the harsh black and white world visible to the Moral Sense, The Right is white, Obama is – if you’re not blind as a bat! – unmistakeably, shall we say, non-kin. Anyone can see that! Besides THAT, he is foreign-born, Kenyan, communist, Muslim, socialist. Makes no difference. He is not American. When the House came under Republican control in 2010, the moral maniacs all but shut down the government. They opposed any legislation supported by the President in the face of the unacceptable fact: he is black.

In the last year, like distant thunder, cries for Obama’s impeachment have rumbled over the land. Initially, the charge against the President had to do with violations of the Constitution. As time passed, the moral indictment became more grave: the President refuses to enforce The Law! At a public meeting, a citizen accused Obama of murderous behavior. “He is an outlaw. a criminal. He should be executed.” The congressman to whom these thoughts were addressed agreed that Obama carried on like an outlaw. He stopped short of recommending the death sentence. The Speaker, John Boehner, aannouned yesterday he is not bringing a vote to the floor of the House on Immigration. Why? The President cannot be trusted to enforce its provisions. Paul Ryan leveled the same indictment, as did Marco Rubio. And of course, Ted Cruz.

These presidential contenders for 2016 are political terrorists, blinded by their moral mania. They go back to antiquity the whole way.

Apostasy – Deconstructing the Moral – Part Seventeen`

Bruce Bartlett was a high-ranking Republican. Smart as a whip, he became the guru on Supply Side economics. Even as a teen-ager he felt at home on The Right and at war with The Left. For the next 30 years, he toiled, unfailingly obedient to his Party’s commands. What more could the Moral Sense ask! Republicans loved him. President George W.consulted him. He was set to live happily ‘ever after.

And then one day he woke up to the realization he no longer believed in Supply Side economics. Instead, he found himself “joined at the hip with Paul Krugman,” an arch foe of every Republican. “Previously, I had viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy.” What was the response of The Right when he went public with his apostasy?

“I lost every friend I had on The Right. Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming. People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me. I think they believe they are just disciplining me, hoping I will admit error and ask for forgiveness.”

Forgiveness? Of course. Every moral system is man-made. Its authors can spin it however they choose. It’s off the top of their heads, after all, safely out of range of common sense(s). If you want ghosts, they have ghosts. If you want stories how the world began, they have ’em stacked to the ceiling. If you want to know where the sun goes every night, no problem. And they have their paws on conscience, “which makes cowards of us all.” For a million years, given no restraint on fantasy, nonsensical ideas circulated without contradiction. – until the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry provided wiggle room for a neomorph, the individual.

Only an individual has creative powers. A group doesn’t, not even the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which got its ideas from John Locke and James Madison and lots of geniuses in between. The war Bruce Bartlett started -Make no mistake, he started it! – is the story of the last ten thousand years. It’s the defining struggle of human history. “I think, and therefore I am. My name is Bruce Bartlett. With two T’s.”

What’s the evidence that only an individual has creative powers? I submit as Exhibit A, the Acheulean handax. Over ten thousand generations, it never changed. No one tinkered, fiddled around, played with innovative possibilities. No one came up with a new design. Why? Every tribe had hung out a sign: Do Not Disturb. And for a million years, the handax, chief utensil of the Pleistocene, remained sam-o, sam-o.

Okay, agreed. The above is an argument by default. Here’s positive evidence. I submit that within the past two hundred years, individuals have mastered the fiendishly difficult complexities of solid state physics so completely that they have created The Information Age, a change matching our two million year journey through the Pleistocene as we evolved from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens.

Here’s the kicker. It wasn’t until political science had established parity of the individual with The Group, experienced first-hand during the American and French revolutions in the 18th century, that the message got delivered. Its delivery always causes commotion, like Bruce Bartlett letting The Right know he had changed his position on Trickle-down economics. Bam! a punch to the solar plexus!

When the message is the messenger, it’s tough going for the messenger, too. Bruce ends his little sketch with a wail. “Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat. But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me.”

The Moral Sense and History – Deconstructing the Moral – Part Sixteen

If we want to make sense out of the last ten thousand years, we have to understand the last one million, specifically, the evolution of the Moral Sense in every hunter-gatherer tribe. And if we want to find meaning in the Republican Right’s intent to bring down our government, we need a diagnosis.

We are first and foremost group animals. Go back to the Eocene, fifty million years ago. Our remote animal ancestors survived by living in groups. Little wonder Darwin observed that “throughout countless ages the ‘social instincts’ acquired greater strength than the instincts of self-preservation, hunger, lust, vengeance.” He recognized that obedience to the Group was all that mattered, the individual of no consequence. Total allegiance was enforced – The Group ueber alles! Darwin noted, “Obedience is of the highest value, for any form of government is better than none. Selfish and contentious people will not cohere, and without coherence nothing can be effected.”

The Moral Sense, a structure transmitted in the DNA, is part of our biology, a quantitative science. Immanuel Kant referred to scientific subjects that can be quantified as raising problems of knowledge. However, the WORKINGS of the Moral Sense can be accessed only through self-reflection and personal experience. Why do I choose to be a Republican? Why a Democrat? What vision informs my political choices? You and I must do the science of personal knowledge. We’re the only ones equipped to do so. Even though it is very much part of biology, such as evolving through natural selection, it functions, again according to Kant, as a QUALITATIVE emergent, raising problems of meaning. The Moral Sense is personal, existential, unique to our species. Like Jacob wrestling with his angel, each of us has to go to the mat with the Moral Sense. Win or lose, we have no choice. We inherited it from the brutal world of the Pleistocene.

Our relationship to the Moral Sense reveals our personal vision of self and group. Waiting for elaborate research studies or learned mathematical klunkers to do what only each of us can do is like Waiting for Godot. The Moral Sense is a living document opening up the history of our pre-history, those million years supposedly lost forever in the mists of Pleistocene time. Right in front of our eyes, within ear-shot, it reveals its dynamics. It’s up to us to look and listen.

What is the diagnosis? Not a problem of knowledge, but a problem of meaning. Why? The Moral Sense is a major player in formulating our personal, political vision.

The Moral Sense has two functions: First, maintain the group’s coherence. Done! 95% of Republicans signed Grover Norquist’s Never! Never! Never Raise Taxes pledge; none voted for Obamacare; none will vote to raise the minimum wage. On and on. The list touches all the bases. Their 24/7/365 attacks against the President never let up.

The second function is to identify other groups as the enemy. Done! It’s the Dems.They spend and spend, tax and tax, enable hammock lazies. They poo-poo the Exceptionalism of our country. They empower a socialist, communist, Muslim president. No, there’s no negotiating with that outfit. Compromise is a surrender to evil. Steven Pinker points out that violence against non-kin is the great tragedy of history. Before the Greeks invented The Game, murderous rivalry was the norm, the violence now masked by rule-bound competition. A city will support a professional team of millionaire athletes with a passion and devotion that boggle the mind. It’s the Home team, after all, even though no player lives in town. Like as not, most are recent additions to the francise owned by an out-of-state billionaire. I’m not making this up. It’s a con job that works with every nation, city, town, hamlet. A Pleistocene sucker isn’t born every minute. They’re born faster than I can count.

Next week, most every country will march in the Olympic parade. “This is my country!” Ten thousand centuries gave the Moral Sense time enough to configure the human interior, arriving on the planet a million years before the transformative Greek inventions. For this unimaginable length of time, it split the world into good and evil, kin and non-kin, while strangling every creative new arrival in the tribe, leaving a bloody trail of “mute, inglorious Miltons.”