Cold State Theory
Cold State Theory

The Cold State Theory (CST) is an evolutionary theory which holds that the theories of international relations are even more applicable to interfamilial relations. In contrast to real governments (“hot states”), this essay will demonstrate that, in the unavoidable battlefield of gene war, families (and organizations) who act as “cold states”, i.e. entities which exhibit all the properties of a state minus those which relate to the use of force against other states, outcompete those who do not.

The purpose of this essay is to provide families with recommendations rooted in evolutionary science. As we shall see, these closely resemble those activities undertaken by governments with the key difference being that of non-violence. Where hot states engage in physical security competition, successful cold states engage in reputational security competition.

Hot State vs Cold State

Here, we analyze the similarities and differences between governments and families. It should be noted that while the focus of this essay is on families, this analysis is equally applicable to organizations; the latter are understood as de facto inter-familial coalitions.

Properties of the State

Cold states exhibit the exact same properties of any government, but within the confines of the law:

Hot Sovereignty: By means of monopolizing the use of force, a hot state possesses the ultimate authority over a specific geographic territory and its population. This means it has the power to make and enforce laws within its jurisdiction without interference from external entities.

Cold Sovereignty: Cold states exhibit the same sovereignty, albeit in a limited fashion. So long as the exercise of sovereignty does not violate laws, they too have the power to exercise authority within their domain without interference from other cold states.

Legitimacy: A government needs to be recognized as the rightful authority by the people it governs. Legitimacy is derived from worldview (culture, religion, art, …). It is crucial for ensuring public compliance and cooperation. This is equally true of cold states as it is of hot states. Here, we understand that broken families are a type of failed state.

Public Service and Welfare: Governments are responsible for providing services and infrastructure that benefit the public, such as healthcare, education, transportation, and public safety. They also play a role in managing the economy, protecting the environment, and supporting the welfare of their citizens. In this regard, hot states and cold states only differ in their relative administrative scope with hot states administering the macro-level and cold states the micro-level. For example, a government may develop and regulate a subway system whereas families are responsible for their members’ commutes.

Law and Order: One of the primary functions of a government is to establish laws and regulations that govern the behavior of individuals. It also must ensure the enforcement of these laws, maintain public order, and administer justice through a legal system. While the same is true of families, these functions are performed there in less formal ways, due to their low number of constituents.

Defense and Security: Governments are charged with protecting the hot state and its citizens from physical threats and internal disturbances; this involves developing and maintaining military capability and implementing measures to ensure national security. Similarly, families are charged with protecting the cold state and its constituents from reputational threats and infighting; this involves developing and maintaining the social antler and implementing measures to ensure reputational security.

Taxation and Public Finance: Governments have the authority to levy taxes and generate revenue to fund public services and initiatives. They manage the state’s budget, expenditures, and economic policies to promote overall economic stability and growth. Here, families diverge significantly in means but not in function. Typically, children are made to perform chores; the time and effort expended are a form of taxation whereas the duties performed are akin to public works. However, families are rarely self-sufficient and thus require tradeable funds to acquire the remainder of their necessities and those funds are earned through the economic activities of the parents.

Diplomacy and Inter-state Relations: Governments represent their hot state in the international community, engaging in diplomacy, forming alliances, negotiating treaties, and participating in international organizations to advance their national interests. Similarly, families represent their cold state in various civil communities or organizations.

Inter-State Relations

In international relations, there are 2 main theories currently in vogue: liberal institutionalism and neorealism. While both theories present accurate observations, they are unequal in their ability to predict historical events and state action; one of these models are thus superior. Here, we examine the two and determine which of these to select as our model of state action.

Liberal Institutionalism

Liberal institutionalism is a theory in international relations that emphasizes the role of institutions, such as international organizations, treaties, and norms, in promoting cooperation and peace among states. Rooted in liberal thought, it argues that these institutions can mitigate the anarchic nature of the international system by providing frameworks for cooperation, reducing uncertainty, and making the costs of defection or non-cooperation higher than the benefits.

Liberal institutionalism posits that institutions facilitate repeated interactions among states, which over time can build trust and establish patterns of cooperative behavior. These interactions are seen as key to overcoming the prisoner’s dilemma situations, where short-term individual interests might lead to outcomes that are worse for all parties involved. By providing information, reducing transaction costs, and setting expectations for state behavior, institutions make it easier for states to coordinate policies and collaborate on issues of mutual interest.

States, however, are responsive to economic incentives the most, second only to national security considerations. If we take the assumptions of liberal institutionalism for granted, then the most effective and predominant form of international cooperation is economic in nature. In turn, this entails specialization:

The dogma in economics is that specialization allows for benefiting from competitive advantages and these permit the emergence of economies of scale. At a macroeconomic level, facilitating specialization is one of the tools state actors use in economic development. The argument goes that we can increase standards of living continually, so long as gross product outpaces population growth. But is this true?

In a reproductively healthy population, such an increase in carrying capacity leads to an increase in population size and, correspondingly, genetic diversity. With greater genetic diversity comes greater intra-group variation along a variety of morphological traits, many of which are maladaptive phenotypes. In the past, this wouldn’t matter because they would be weeded out of the gene pool. However, an entire market now exists known as the medical industry where the majority of its (well-intended) work consists of keeping genetic mutants alive.

This exacerbates the genetic distance between commoners and elites, leading to a deterioration of institutions. As institutions decay, so does the infrastructure which supports the carrying capacity of the population. The specialist social structure not only fosters its own degeneration, but its rigid and unadaptable foundation removes all resilience in the face of civilizational stressors.

This inherent trait is at the root of the liberal geopolitical argument in favor of global integration (a global order with decentralized control, aka the “international system”); the belief is that world peace and “human rights democracies” can be achieved by way of structural co-dependence – a weak form of mutually assured destruction. Ostensibly, war and tyranny can be deterred if everyone is hooked upon a foundation which can be damaged from war and tyranny; supposedly, even the baddies don’t want to end the world because, well, they live in it…

But this begs the question: do the religious adherents of cthonic cults like the Abrahamic faiths really have any qualms about going to heaven? A big chunk of them look forward to having heavenly orgies with 7 virgin teenage girls and another chunk are just looking to straight-up chill with jesus. This is like trusting the suicidal guy to not cut the wire you’re both hanging from. Yikes.

The Dependence Game

Evidently, liberal institutionalism is neither internally consistent nor congruent with evolutionary science.


Neorealism, also known as structural realism, is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the anarchic structure of the international system as the primary determinant of state behavior. Developed by Kenneth Waltz in his 1979 book “Theory of International Politics,” neorealism argues that the lack of a central governing authority above states compels them to act primarily in pursuit of their own survival and security, leading to a self-help system.

John Mearsheimer outlines the 5 assumptions of neorealism:

  1. The international system is anarchic.
  2. States inherently possess some offensive military capability, which gives them the ability to hurt and possibly destroy each other.
  3. States can never be certain about the intentions of other states.
  4. The basic motive driving states is survival.
  5. States think strategically about how to survive in the international system.
John J. Mearsheimer, The False Promise of International Institutions

There are 2 branches of neorealism: defensive and offensive realism. Defensive realism presupposes that states conform to the theory of balance of power; that is to say that, in the quest for survival, states maximize their power but only to the extent that it is a balancing act. Upsetting the balance of power, the theory goes, incentivizes other states to redress that balance by maximizing their own power which is counter-productive to the state’s objective of survival. Offensive realism, on the other hand, rejects the balance of power theory as a limit on power maximization. Which of these branches are correct?

Controlling for resource and population size, let’s falsify the balance of power theory with a basic payoff matrix:

Power Maximization Matrix

Here, we see that, no matter what another state does, the course of action with the highest payoff is always to maximize power with no consideration for balance of power. Therefore, offensive realism is the correct branch of neorealism and this is the theory we shall apply to the cold state.

Offensive Realism & the Cold State

Do the 5 assumptions of neorealism apply to the cold state?

  1. In the context of reputational security, cold states do not have recourse to a central authority, in the absence of defamation. Thus, cold states do exist in a reputational state of anarchy.
  2. Cold states inherently possess some offensive reputational capability, which grants them sexual access at the expense of competitors – a perpetual state of gene war.
  3. Cold states can be very certain that other cold states partake in male-male competition.
  4. Only those genes which copy themselves can survive. Thus, the evolution of cold states tend towards maximum long-term gene replication; see The Evolution of Parenting.
  5. Cold states think strategically about how to survive in the sexual market, usually implicitly.

Here, we see that the assumptions of neorealism are even more rigidly applicable to the cold state. Applying offensive realism to cold states, we come to our natural conclusion: families and organizations have an evolutionary incentive to maximize their reputational capabilities, both defensively and offensively.

This entails the continuous development of the most formidable social antlers possible and the collection of kompromat on other cold states (to the extent allowable by law). In other words, cold states must engage in reputational security competition to ensure their survival.

As with hot states, the 3 biggest factors which mediate success in security competition are intelligence and resource and population size. To that end, we derive 4 self-evident prescriptions for cold states:

  1. Select mates with highest genetic quality possible
  2. Make as many babies as possible
  3. Make as much money as possible
  4. Form or join coalitions

In turn, all 4 prescriptions require internal cooperation and outward hostility – in other words, positive and negative ethnocentrism, respectively. This is corroborated by historical analysis which demonstrates that more ethnocentric groups eventually dominate less ethnocentric groups. This observation is also consistent with agent-based computer models which predict that ethnocentric strategies outcompete all others:

From a random start, ethnocentric strategies dominate other possible strategies (selfish, traitorous, and humanitarian) based on cooperation or non-cooperation with in-group and out-group agents. Here we show that ethnocentrism eventually overcomes its closest competitor, humanitarianism, by exploiting humanitarian cooperation across group boundaries as world population saturates. Selfish and traitorous strategies are self-limiting because such agents do not cooperate with agents sharing the same genes. Traitorous strategies fare even worse than selfish ones because traitors are exploited by ethnocentrics across group boundaries in the same manner as humanitarians are, via unreciprocated cooperation.

Hartshorn, Max & Kaznatcheev, Artem & Shultz, Thomas. (2013). The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation. JASSS. 16. 10.18564/jasss.2176.

The same result is obtained from the Religious Competition Simulator which controls for environmental factors and tracks inter-generational changes in allele frequency.

Recommendations for Cold States

The following applies to families and organizations:

  1. Foster a pro-ethnocentric internal culture that is conducive to reputational security competition. The leader’s crucial role as culture creator cannot be understated.
  2. Execute a plan: social antlers do not grow themselves and kompromat does not collect itself. You must organize your constituents to that end.
  3. Leverage your social antler to create monetization opportunities. Capital is attracted to value. Be valuable. Play the dependence game.
  4. Coalitional behavior: reach out to like-minded cold states and seek opportunities for collaboration. Different cold states may specialize in different aspects of reputational security. By associating your social antlers under a common brand, you form a potent monolith.

Interestingly, this type of familial organization and activity was the norm in the old European Nobility. It not only suggests an evolutionary origin to aristocratic structure, but that the abandonment of those practises and their subsequent decline in power are no coincidence.

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Conceptual Open-Source License (COSL)

The original ideas and arguments presented herein are published under the COSL license.