Saturday, March 26, 2005

The New Neanderthals

University of Wyoming economist Jason Shogren, along with colleagues Richard Horan of Michigan State University and Erwin Bulte from Tilburg University in the Netherlands report in an academic paper that free trade may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals 30,000-40,000 years ago. (hat tip: The Corner)

After at least 200,000 years of eking out an existence in glacial Eurasia, the Neanderthal suddenly went extinct.” [....] “Early modern humans arriving on the scene shortly before are suspected to have been the perpetrator, but exactly how they caused Neanderthal extinction is unknown.”

Creating a new kind of caveman economics in their published paper, [the authors] argue early modern humans were first to exploit the competitive edge gained from specialization and free trade. With more reliance on free trade, humans increased their activities in culture and technology, while simultaneously out-competing Neanderthals on their joint hunting grounds, the economists say.

Archaeological evidence exists to suggest traveling bands of early humans interacted with each other and that inter-group trading emerged, says Shogren. Early humans, the Aurignations and the Gravettians, imported many raw materials over long ranges and their innovations were widely dispersed. Such exchanges of goods and ideas helped early humans to develop “supergroup social mechanisms.” The long-range interchange among different groups kept both cultures going and generated new cultural explosions, Shogren says.
NRO asks rhetorically, "What does this say about the anti-globalization movement?"

Image hosted by According to Wikpedia, "globalization" is a term used to describe the changes in societies and the world economy that are the result of dramatically increased trade and cultural exchange. In specifically economic contexts, it refers almost exclusively to the effects of trade, particularly trade liberalization or "free trade".
The new Neanderthals are the anti-capitalists; the anti-free trade protesters; the anti-WTO protesters. They are generally allied with capitalism's historical enemies who claim that it is capitalism that causes world poverty and most of the ills of humankind.

The new Neanderthals ignore the evidence that has demonstrated over and over again that human misery has a cure--and that cure is capitalism and free trade. The latest ploy on the part of these protesters (who come from the ranks of Marxists, Socialists, and Communists--still in denial that their moment in history has passed and that their ideology was placed once and for all in history's dustbin) is to claim that capitalism and democracy are incompatible; and that REAL freedom requires more laws; more restrictions; more limits placed on those who produce by an elite made up from their ranks.

But then, a "new cultural explosion" that comes from the free exchange of goods and ideas is not what the neo-Neaderthals have in mind.

Is it too much to hope they, like their intellectual ancestors, will also become extinct?

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