Great ape troops rarely exceed a few dozen before conflicts provoke departures. Humans are chatty great apes motivated to align broadly by security and economic benefits.

As the Cold War ended, technological advances teamed with economic forces to deliver extraordinary global communication and supply chain networks. Poverty plunged far faster than was thought possible. However, today’s world order also reflects ideologically enthused intellectuals having long sought to undermine social cohesion. The roots of today’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion can be traced to ‘The long march through the institutions’ that was central to the left-wing German Protest Movement in 1968.

Last week’s news stories spanned Google’s racially biased AI programme to Jane Goodall visiting SA. Goodall is an outstanding role model as she contributed greatly through overcoming challenges and setbacks with abundant determination and, when necessary, much humility.


Goodall’s initial public debut centred around her influential research disputing popular perceptions about chimps. This was during the 1960s university protests and peace movement era. Her early years observing chimps had shown they were decidedly less violent than humans.

After publishing her findings she returned to Tanzania and then saw the same troop exhibit horrific lethal violence among direct relatives. Despite this contradicting the most appealing aspect of her earlier research, she dutifully chronicled what she had witnessed.

Though the early years of her groundbreaking research were without the benefits of university training, she consistently mixed a love for animals with a commitment to accuracy and objectivity. We should emulate Goodall’s youthful curiosity and seek to understand how humans have been programmed along the ideological lines vividly depicted recently by Google’s anti-white AI generated images.


Our distant ancestors lived amid small kindred clans that benefited from trading, and achieving genetic diversity, by engaging with other clans. Violence could be deterred, but not eradicated.

Clans arise naturally while much ancient history reflects some geographically advantaged societies becoming particularly well organised and morphing into empires. All-season navigable rivers linking farmlands with an ocean harbour provided – and still do – a huge edge.

Reciprocity is common among chimps and humans as per the expression, ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ Exchanging gifts follows from reciprocity and leads to trade. Alongside specialisation of labour promoting innovation and productivity gains, trade is central to how humans have levered our exceptional communication potential.

Linking disparate groups through trade has always spurred development. Trading, however, requires trust. Whereas trust accrues rather easily among kin groups, achieving it among diverse groups has often followed from worshipping common gods. Alternatively, ruling elites could send their subjects into battle more easily by negative programming to dehumanise adversaries that didn’t worship the right god(s).


Like other great apes, individual humans naturally want to be accepted within a group. Creating societies is more challenging and it usually follows from sharing a common language, enemy, history, or set of beliefs. Just as we import a language which programmes our minds to communicate with others, we import beliefs which programme us to fit in. That is, we are highly prone to manipulation.

It makes no sense for a country with SA’s ultra elevated levels of poverty and unemployment to prioritise inequality. Yet the ANC has been remarkably successful at selling the evils of inequality to sustain their political support. Inequality and oppressor/oppressed narratives are central to the victimhood framing that illiberal programming promotes.

The leftist intellectuals who dominate so many Western universities, news outlets and entertainment companies have also enjoyed great success at pillorying inequality while advancing worldviews anchored to victimhood. Tellingly, they don’t malign the fabulous salaries earned by top athletes, movie stars or musicians. Rather they object strenuously to those with power and wealth stemming from their ability to exceptionally manage the productive resources that materially benefit societies.

Leftist intellectuals seek to destructively pry power from business leaders and it is difficult to overemphasise their hypocrisy. They are exceedingly anti-egalitarian about who should curate art, literature or information. A tiny number of influential art critics and curators determine what is avant-garde. Literary criticism is similarly dominated and it routinely advances Marxist or Postmodern programming. Even the hard sciences are greatly influenced by Nobel Prize recipients being determined by a small club of mostly leftist insiders.

While those whose trade is centred around information and ideas have debated inequality for centuries, much has materially changed. Until rather recently, protecting property rights mostly benefited the nobles who owned huge farms. Industrialisation greatly expanded the modes of production while making a meagre number of families fabulously wealthy through their being able to dominate extraction of scarce deposits. 

Nowadays, services dominate global growth, not manufacturing, mining or agriculture. Great fortunes are made not through controlling scarce resources but rather through creativity. This has been particularly offensive to those well versed in the humanities as they see their passion for ideas making them superior to business types who pursued advantages through controlling material resources.


Perhaps the best known work of the romantic era, which idolised ideas, emotions and human boundaries while resisting industrial influences, was Frankenstein. Elon Musk’s Neuralink has joined its key competitor, Synchron, by successfully implanting a chip in a person’s brain. Humans can now communicate without any physical input. The recent surge in the US stock market traces to expectations that AI will soon redefine humanity.

Marxists, along with many other leftist intellectuals, resent the world economy being reshaped by business people who then become fabulously wealthy. These intellectual elites don’t, however, want equality. Rather, they want power.

To launch a revolution in pursuit of their delusional utopia, they are prepared to break the foundations of societies, such as the importance of family, protecting children, freedom of speech, merit, and so on. They wield identity politics and inequality as sledgehammers but, when it comes to building, all they can offer is criticisms of what others have built.


Larry Summers, the renowned economist and former president of Harvard, recently joined the reconstituted board of OpenAI. He has publicly questioned whether AI might greatly increase demand for high EQ workers thus rebalancing their productivity relative to high IQ workers. Goodall would hardly be surprised to see emotional intelligence becoming more valued by humans.

Probably due to survival pressures reflecting extremely high incidences of rape and murder, many in SA, most particularly low-income women, develop exceptional EQ. This group could be among the biggest winners, with the global market for labour being profoundly disrupted by AI.

Just as efficiency gains in shipping and later communication led to very large numbers of Asians escaping poverty by being integrated into global manufacturing supply chains, AI could surge demand for low-wage EQ workers in Africa. A key difference is that in many cases there would be little need to mobilise capital in the workers’ home country beyond a tablet and internet access. As the benefits would accrue almost entirely to those least well off, the hold on power by ruling elites reliant on rampant patronage would be threatened.

Goodall’s early insights about group behaviour were informed by humble observations. We must be similarly observant about how the illiberal left seeks to programme how people think.

[Image: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay]

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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For 20 years, Shawn Hagedorn has been regularly writing articles in leading SA publications, focusing primarily on economic development. For over two years, he wrote a biweekly column titled “Myths and Misunderstandings” without ever lacking subject material. Visit, and follow him on Twitter @shawnhagedorn