Racial attitudes — particularly resentment toward non-members of one's race — have origins in human evolution, posited professors Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein during a Friday-published joint appearance on Joe Rogan’s eponymous show.
Sociological potential for widespread adoption and implementation of Nazi-esque ideology is a permanent feature of the human condition, asserted Weinstein, a professor of biology and evolutionary theorist at Evergreen State College:
There is something that actually does threaten to reemerge, and Charlottesville is a version of it. But I think because we have a cartoon understanding of what that protest was actually about and how many people are actually involved, we don’t really see why this is a dangerous and contentious issue, and I think the answer is an evolutionary one that hasn’t been spelled out, and because it hasn’t been spelled out it’s very hard to point to. …
What took place in Germany in the 30s was a particularly visible, well-documented example of a pattern that is much more common in human history, and because this pattern emerges as a result of certain features of the way evolution functions in the context of humans, it is actually always a danger that it will reemerge, and knowing what to do about it is not so simple until you’ve seen why it occurs and what it means. …
Tyranny is the endgame of prosperity, and so there is a pattern in which you will go through a period of prosperousness in which it appears that that thing is defeated once and for all, and there’s no reason for people to be going after each other in this particular way, and then at the point where that pattern peters out, it reemerges and people don’t expect it. ...
Biology does create entities that have the potential for racism in them. In our genomes, we carry the potential for racism for Darwinian reasons.
Weinstein accused President Donald Trump of "cynically … riding a wave" of racial resentment among whites. Rogan agreed, claiming that Trump was "winking and nodding" at white racial nationalist groups like neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Racist attitudes "are going to become permissible again if we are not careful to recognize that that’s the nature of history," said Weinstein. Peterson concurred, viewing racial resentment and tribalism among whites as reactionary against left-wing cultivation of similar attitudes among blacks and other non-white racial groups.
Adolf Hitler and Nazism, said Weinstein, can both be connected to evolutionary adaptations to advantage one's own in-group.
Hitler was a monster, as we all know, but he was a rational monster. The program that he deployed — not what he said, mind you. What he said was wrong in many places, especially where it gets near Darwinism, it's just all tangled and broken — but what he did was rational from the point of view of increasing the amount of resource that was deidcated to producing members of his populations.
And so my point is, this is the danger that we are in if we allow ourselves to imagine that genocidal impulses are more or less gone from the world, because ... we all agree that they're a bad thing. The point is that they exist in a latent [genetic/hereditary] program. ...
The tendency of people is to figure out who, what other population is weak. If that population is across a border, then there's some excuse for war, and if the population is within the border then it's a genocide. But the point is, that's an ever-present danger for us.
Disgust toward other races and ethnicities, said Peterson, is related to an in-built evolutionarily adaptive mechanism designed to protect oneself and one's in-group from dangerous pathogens:
Orderliness is associated with sensitivity to disgust, and this is actually a really big deal. There’s a paper that was published in Plos One about three years ago looking at the relationship between the prevalence of infectious diseases and authoritarian political attitudes … and the correlation between the prevalence of infectious diseases and authoritarian/right-wing political beliefs [was strongly correlated]. …
The idea is that this is part of what you might describe as the extended behavioral immune system. One of the problems with the interactions between [different] groups of human beings in our evolutionary past was — well, exactly what happened to the Native Americans, they came out and shook hands with the Spanish conquistadors and then within a couple of generations 90% of them were dead of smallpox and measles and mumps.
It’s been a truism in our evolutionary past that if you meet a group of isolated humans; if you’re a group of isolated humans and you meet another group of isolated humans, and you trade pathogens, there’s a real possibility that you and everyone you know are going to be dead in no time flat. So we have a disgust mechanism that produces this implicit — let’s call it racial and ethnic bias — that is part and parcel of the human cognitive landscape, but the problem with that is that it’s rooted in a disgust mechanism that actually serves a protective function.
Watch the discussion below (relevant portion begins at 10:38):