Friday, 17 September 2010

Catholicism: a Darwinian perspective

With Pope Benedict's visit to the UK currently in the news, I thought I'd offer a human-evolutionary, i.e. Darwinian, view of what he and the Catholic church stand for, which is, to cut a long story short, POWER.

Back in the Middle Ages, while the aristocracy sought advantage for themselves through the power of the sword, the clergy, i.e. Catholic church, did so through the power of the word (of God) and the moral authority that went with it.

The two, aristocracy and clergy, complemented each other nicely and cooperated in creating the state, i.e. the social, political and economic power structures by means of which they were able to control and exploit their social and human environment.

Now, if you want to exert moral authority over your fellow humans, man having evolved emotionally and behaviourally as a tribal animal, you have to convince them that you belong to the same TRIBE. This was achieved, at one level, by equating state and nation, and, at an other level, by declaring everyone to be a “child of God”, subject to the authority of his universal Church.

The Pope and his church insist that they are motivated by their love for God, Truth and humanity – but they would do, wouldn't they . . . They cannot admit, even to themselves, that they are motivated, primarily, by the desire for POWER, since that would expose the lie on which their authority, power and own self-image are based, and their social status would tumble to the ground. They would no longer be able to exploit the social environment to their own advantage. Added to which, the loss of their own self-image would probably destroy them psychologically, thus one shouldn't be too harsh on them. We need to understand their blindness and the falseness of their claims to wisdom and authority.

Why is POWER (in its multifarious forms of money, social and professional status, the moral high ground, etc) man's primary motivation? Because it is what our primordial Darwinian drive for survival and reproductive success has been perverted and reduced to in the artificial environment of human society. Understandably, when one considers that such power has the potential to greatly enhance an individual's chances of survival and reproductive success.

The bigger the LIE the more difficult it is to recognise and face up to, and there are no bigger lies than those on which the British state and the Catholic church, for example, are based.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Work and the "meaning of life"

Joe Moran writes in Sunday's Guardian/Observer (Cif), The ants march on, but we'd be happier as grasshoppers: the idea that work is the meaning of existence has little basis in biology:
". . nature writers like Mabey have pointed out that seeing work as the meaning of life is a human, metaphysical invention; it has little basis in biology."
Actually, the work ethic which governs and is wrecking our lives (as well as the planet) DOES have its roots in biology: in the misplaced and perverted expression of our Darwinian nature, which, in the artificial environment of human civilisation, has latched onto the pursuit and exercise of POWER as the most useful route to individual survival and reproductive success.
Work (of the kind we are talking about) translates into economic growth and MONEY, which is POWER in its most versatile form.
Just as humans domesticated certain animals, not for the fun of it, i.e as pets, but in order to exploit them in their struggle for survival, advantage and "success", so too society's ruling elites domesticated their own kind, and themselves into the bargain, in order to exploit them. We are trained and conditioned (just like a dog, by a regime of rewards and punishments, or promises/threats of them) to work long and hard, in order to produce the material wealth which, originally society's elites, and now everyone, wants and feels entitled to.
Work is a source of POWER (though not just, or even primarily, for those actually doing it), the possession of which has the potential to greatly enhance an individual's chances of survival and (especially male) reproductive success, which, from a purely biological perspective, IS the "meaning of life".

Monday, 18 January 2010

Politico-socio-economic Darwinism

and the (misplaced and perverted Darwinian) advantage of denying its existance.
Those who deny that we, Homo sapiens, are still fully engaged in the 
primordial, Darwinian, struggle for survival and (reproductive) "success" (only now misplaced and perverted in the artificial environment of human society itself, where it has largely been reduced to the pursuit and exercise of power in its multifarious forms) - justifying their position, perhaps, by pointing to the evils of social Darwinism and Nazism - are deceiving themselves, and others, in (subconscious) pursuit of personal advantage in this very struggle.

The mistake which social Darwinists, Nazis (and Marxists) made was in seeing this struggle occurring between different social, racial and/or national groups, when in reality it is primarily between individuals, i.e. their immediate families, who identify with particular social, professional, religious, ethnic, racial or national groups as a means of advancing their own personal interests.

Because of their misplaced and perverted (Darwinian) nature, it is necessary to disguise one's genuine (perverted self-interested) motivations, not just from others, but also from oneself.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Western civilization: an evolutionary cul-de-sac

Human nature and behaviour evolved in and are thus adapted to life, and the Darwinian struggle for survival and (reproductive) success, in essentially two different environments: 1) the individual's extended family group, or tribe, with which (notwithstanding conflicts and rivalries between individuals) members identified and cooperated with each other, developing strong bonds of loyalty and mutual commitment, and 2) the environment external to it (including other, rival, groups of humans) which the individual would have feared and, one way or another, sought to exploit to his tribe's, and thereby, his own, advantage.

With the rise and development of civilisation (very recent in an evolutionary context), these two environments were conflated, confounded and exploited, to the advantage of a particular society's dominant individuals and their families, which formed social elites, originally comprising an aristocracy or oligarchy and priesthood, but gradually expanding and diversifying, especially in recent times. State and economy developed to facilitate the (self)-exploitation of this newly arisen, artificial environment, of human society itself, to the advantage of those in positions of power and influence, where, misplaced and perverted, but blinded by familiarity, success, dependency and the human brain's natural inclination to rationalize its interpretation of reality, i.e. its environment, to its own perceived advantage, the individual  continues his struggle for survival, and "success" - only now largely  reduced to the pursuit, retention and exercise of POWER (in the form of money, the moral high ground, social and professional status, etc.), which has, or certainly had, the potential to greatly enhance, especially male, reproductive success.

State and economy also serve society, of course, and every individual is completely dependent on them (as those who profit most from the political and socioeconomic status quo like to emphasize) - but as a shepherd serves his flock, i.e. not for the flock's sake (although he may feel genuine concern for a lost or injured lamb), but primarily for his own (and/or his employer's) sake, for the meat and wool that the flock provides and can be exchanged in the market place for money (the most versatile form of power).

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Not "social Darwinism"

I'd like to clarify a common misconception, which leads some to wrongly equate my Darwinian approach to understanding our civilization with social Darwinism and its misconceived application of Darwin's theory to human society, which often had the (subconscious) aim of rationalizing and justifying existing social or racial inequalities. The Nazis, notoriously, justified their wars of aggression and domination of other, "inferior", peoples (races) as a legitimate expression of man's Darwinian nature.

It is not my intention to rationalize or justify anything (not even subconsciously, I hope), but to expose the actual (though misplaced and perverted, in the artificial environment of human society itself) Darwinian nature of existing society, which is hidden from us by our own, largely subconscious, rationalizations - a consequence of the human brain having evolved to interpret reality, i.e. its environment (now largely socioeconomic), to its own perceived advantage.

Maintaining the status quo and efficient functioning of state and economy depend on us not recognising their (self)-exploitative, Darwinian nature (to the advantage of society's dominant elites, of course), which our brains thus subconsciously blind us to; even the brains of such eminent (evolutionary) biologists as Richard Dawkins and Desmond Morris, whose knowledge and expertise one might expect to open their eyes. However, I'm quite sure that if either of them had recognized, or even suspected, the Darwinian nature of our civilization, they would have let the world know about it - unless, of course, they were/are too fearful (as Copernicus was) of being ridiculed for suggesting such an outrageous idea.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


I'm starting this, and other BLOGS, as an experiment, so please bear with me, if you will, while I try getting it together. Up until now I've used my own homepage and posts (responses to articles, editorials and other people's posts) on the Guardian's Comment is Free (but unfortunately too heavily "moderated") website. My hope is that in this blog I will succeed in giving my ideas more structure and a better sounding board.

I think I have some important things to say about man's Darwinian nature and the civilization (the power structures of state and economy) it has given rise to.

At the moment there are massive taboos in place against taking a general Darwinian view of ourselves and our civilization (partly because of the nasty associations with Social Darwinism and Nazism), but this has to change, if we are to understand ourselves, our situation and the existential problems (social, political, economic and environmental) now threatening us.