Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The unrecognized Darwinian nature of our civilization

LINK to Guardian's edited extract of David Cameron's Hugo Young lecture.
What is seen in principle as an act of social solidarity has in practice led to the greatest atomisation of our society. The once natural bonds that existed between people – of duty and responsibility – have been replaced with the synthetic bonds of the state – regulation and bureaucracy.
I couldn't agree more.
We need to use the state to remake society.
I couldn't agree less.

I don't question Mr. Cameron's sincerity in wanting to create a better society, but like those who went before him, he cannot possibly succeed - other than marginally, perhaps - because he and his colleagues, along with the social and political scientists who inspire and advise them, fail to recognise, even in outline, let alone understand, the true nature of society and of its political and economic institutions.

In this they are like those in power and privilege 400 years ago, who also failed (refused) to recognised or understand the true nature of the World, the Copernican revolution, which had been initiated more than 50 years before, not having yet made much headway against the vested interests of the powerful and privileged in maintaining the misconceptions associated with the status quo.

It is now 150 years since Darwin published his famous book On the Origin of Species, with its implied and later elaborated implications for our understanding of the evolutionary origins of our own species, yet we still refuse to extend this knowledge to an understanding of the development of human society and its institutions.

The main rationalization for not doing so, and making a taboo of it, is the unpleasant experiences made with Social Darwinism, which misused Darwin's theory to justify existing social and racial inequalities, and led to the Nazis basing their criminally insane ideology of a Germanic master race on it.

There is, of course, another, far more powerful, reason for the refusal to take a Darwinian view of our own society: the fact that it would expose its social, political and economic power structures for what they really are, thereby undermining their legitimacy and acceptance, along with the positions of those in power and privilege.

But until we do, we cannot understand our society or right its ills.

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