So first there was my favorite Jonathan Haidt video, which argued that liberals and conservatives are equally necessary for the perpetuation of civilization. Then there's an L. A. Times article that says political attitudes are largely determined through genetics, and that "for the species to survive, you need both" liberals and conservatives.
The research seems to point in the direction of balance -- you need to balance risk-taking and new ideas against caution and a desire for order and stability. As long as the two stay in balance, civilization flourishes.
At first this sounded great. But then it occurred to me: what exactly are the consequences of this balance disappearing? I can think of several civilizations that descended into ruin when the balance tipped too far in favor of conservatism, but I can't think of any that have done so when the balance tipped too far in favor of liberalism. (And before you start mentioning failed communist states, remember, we're talking about social issues here, not economic -- the USSR may have been communist, but they were just as repressive on social issues as our own Sarah Palin.)
I don't doubt the research that is leading scientists to reach these conclusions, but I do wonder about the conclusions themselves. They seem to invest almost too much wisdom into natural selection; "this balance exists because it confers an evolutionary benefit to the species as a whole." Perhaps.
But what if the original natural state of humanity was conservatism, and liberalism was a mutation that has taken a comparatively long time to reach its current level of penetration into the species? Another recent scientific study has shown that conservatives reproduce at much higher rates, on average, than do liberals. Since the research seems to demonstrate that the very concepts of liberalism and conservatism have been baked into our innate makeup for nearly as long as we've been on the planet, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that disparity in breeding rates back to near the beginning of our species' history. If that's the case, it would explain why reaching a global mindshare roughly equal to that of conservatism has taken an amount of time so utterly disproportionate to the benefit and utility that liberalism conveys to the civilizations it inhabits.
I realize I just lost all (two) of my conservative readers with that conjecture, but remember, it's only conjecture; I'm not sure I believe it either. I'm just trying to do good science and propose an alternate hypothesis that explains the observed results. But why am I defending myself to you? You conservatives now have a homework assignment: produce a single nation, tribe, culture, empire, or other unit of civilization that descended into ruin because its pendulum of social attitude swung too far to the left. If I pass out holding my breath, someone please call an ambulance.