Robert L. Bettinger


On his book Orderly Anarchy: Sociopolitical Evolution in Aboriginal California

Cover Interview of October 19, 2016


Orderly Anarchy draws heavily on modern evolutionary theory, including evolutionary game theory and related models that incorporate cultural transmission, but differs from the usual offering in those areas in its careful attention to historical context and detail, and the effect of those on trajectories of development.

Evolutionary theorists are aware of the importance of context and detail, of course, but these are by definition beyond theoretical explanation. I would like to see Orderly Anarchy serve as model for future studies incorporating the effect of evolutionary process and historical circumstance, examining their mutual interaction.

In the last analysis, while theory is essential, it is the historical component that makes Orderly Anarchy a case study about native Californians - real people, living real lives, rather than one-dimensional cutouts interesting only to the extent that they do what theory predicts they should do.