I’m about to describe two types of people, A vs. B. While reading their descriptions I want you to think about which people around you are more like type A or B. Also ask yourself: which type do you respect more? Which would you rather be?
TYPE *A* folks eat a healthier more varied diet, and get better exercise. They more love nature, travel, and exploration, and they move more often to new communities. They work fewer hours, and have more complex mentally-challenging jobs. They talk more openly about sex, are more sexually promiscuous, and more accepting of divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex. They have fewer kids, who they are more reluctant to discipline or constrain. They more emphasize their love for kids, and teach kids to more value generosity, trust, and honesty.
Type A folks care less for land or material posessions, relative to people. They spend more time on leisure, music, dance, story-telling and the arts. They are less comfortable with war, domination, bragging, or money and material inequalities, and they push more for sharing and redistribution. They more want lots of discussion of group decisions, with everyone having an equal voice and free to speak their mind. They deal with conflicts more personally and informally, and more prefer unhappy folk to be free to leave. Their leaders lead more by consensus.
TYPE *B* folks travel less, and move less often from where they grew up. They are more polite and care more for cleanliness and order. They have more self-sacrifice and self-control, which makes them more stressed and suicidal. They work harder and longer at more tedious and less healthy jobs, and are more faithful to their spouses and their communities. They make better warriors, and expect and prepare more for disasters like war, famine, and disease. They have a stronger sense of honor and shame, and enforce more social rules, which let them depend more on folks they know less. When considering rule violators, they look more at specific rules, and less at the entire person and what feels right. Fewer topics are open for discussion or negotiation.
Type B folks believe more in good and evil, and in powerful gods who enforce social norms. They envy less, and better accept human authorities and hierarchy, including hereditary elites at the top (who act more type A), women and kids lower down, and human and animal slaves at the bottom. They identify more with strangers who share their ethnicity or culture, and more fear others. They are less bothered by violence in war, and toward foreigners, kids, slaves, and animals. They more think people should learn their place and stay there. Nature’s place is to be ruled and changed by humans.
Types A and B map reasonably well onto today’s culture wars, with A the modern/liberal and B the traditional/conservative. It maps well to the rich-poor axis from the World Value Survey. But in fact, type A vs. B are actually foragers vs. farmers. [The above summarizes many books and articles I’ve read over the last year.] Which is my point: I think a lot of today’s political disputes come down to a conflict between farmer and forager ways, with forager ways slowly and steadily winning out since the industrial revolution. It seems we acted like farmers when farming required that, but when richer we feel we can afford to revert to more natural-feeling forager ways. The main exceptions, like school and workplace domination and ranking, are required to generate industry-level wealth. We live a farmer lifestyle when poor, but prefer to buy a forager lifestyle when rich. Why this should be will be the subject of my next few posts.