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.