Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Capitalism is NOT the Natural Outcome of Natural Selection

Today's reality is that old, simplistic socio-political descriptions will not work in this century.  The rules are going to be re-written, though the 'change-averse' (who by nature tend to be conservative) will scream "NO CHANGE!".

A dyed-in-the-wool conservative friend recently suggested that I was hypocritical in being in support of the "Occupy Movement" while suggesting that most companies don't like to hire visibly unhealthy workers (yes, including those with unhealthy body mass indexes), because of a natural human tendency that evolved in our species to marginalize individuals who cannot actively benefit 'the tribe'.  

His point is that capitalism seems to be the natural outcome of natural selection, survival of the fittest, as is my point about evolution-affected decision-making bias in hiring employees.  I believe that capitalism is not at all the product of NATURAL selection, it is the product of SOCIAL selection and the result of humans having far too much time on their hands over the past 10,000 years.  In just 3% of our species' existence (Homo Sapiens Sapiens), we've moved from 350,000+ years of living in the natural nomadic, hunter/gatherer, tribal state our genes/instincts most naturally were designed to cope with, to being sedentary, urbanized and living in isolated nuclear families.  We no longer live in the shared environment of a tribal village, like these un-contacted cousins of ours photographed in Brazil a couple of months ago:

You'll note obesity is not "normal", it's extremely rare in our natural tribal human state.

The “Darwinian” forces are certainly at work when it comes to selecting genes for generating more wealth for the tribe.  In our natural tribal state, the tribes that had the best “entrepreneurs” did better than their neighbours' tribes, for sure.  In a tribe, however, wealth was automatically distributed.  There were just too many pressures in nomadic human life/survival over our initial 350,000+ years of existence (actually 7 million years since Homo split from the chimps) for the accumulation of personal wealth at the expense of the tribe.

This was an ongoing "haves-have nots" problem in aboriginal communities: as 'Western influence' began to be adopted and some individuals/families began to become wealthier, the tendency of their fellow tribe members to ‘borrow’ the vehicles of others because they need the truck to go do something they needed (or personally feel inclined) to do, like drive to town.  There was no sense of wrong-doing in using someone’s truck without permission as it was considered by the 'have not's' to be part of the tribe’s communal property. The notion that one individual deserved exclusive access to that truck because they had 'worked harder' for it and had taken out a bank loan to buy it was a foreign concept to the rest.

So, yes, the smartest and most aggressive individuals helped their gene pool survive and get passed along.  The inherent desire for more than we need is part of the human condition/genome, but we live in times that are totally artificial for our species’ instincts and tendencies.  Our species has proliferated to the point of decimating the planet NOT by thinking individually, but by acting tribally/socially.  The individual drive is ‘I want to have sex with my cousin’s wife’, but the social decision is “if she gets pregnant and they recognize the kid as mine my cousin will hate me and I'll have to provide for that additional child...  Not good.”  Or “I want Chief Grok’s shell necklace because it gets him all the chicks, so I’ll stab him and take it” vs. “Hang on!  I’m too weak to take over his role as Chief and bring in more food/wealth for the tribe and my own kids might die because of my actions AND I’ll get my ass kicked/killed by the stronger guys in the tribe for doing it, so I better not.

Living in a society forces us to modify our naturally 'greedy' selfish interests for the benefit of our shared genes.  Our 'unnatural' modern societies have long glorified what are actually anti-social tendencies to accumulate personal wealth at the expense of the health of the tribe.  Anathema to most 'capitalists' today, yet clearly the most natural state for human beings to survive best in the environmental/social conditions we evolved to live in.  From the 'what's best for the tribe' point of view, 'capitalism' is pathological.  The ideology of "manifest destiny" continues to pervade the thinking of the Republican party and is evidenced even more blatantly in all the underpinnings of the Tea Party movement (though they have all learned it's best not to verbalize it).

In recent studies it has been revealed that becoming wealthy alters people's behaviour, making them arrogant, more prone to unethical decisions like taking candy left out for children and cutting people off in traffic.   While this phenomenon suggests that ANY one of us who becomes wealthy is likely to also become arrogant, it's not an excuse for their behaviour, but does provide scientific proof for something we all have experienced and know intuitively. 

From the natural selection perspective, the tribe had to make tough social decisions.   The pair of swans at my boat club chased off their 7th gosling last season when it reached the age of about one month old.  Turns out, when the Humane Society arrived to capture it, that the gosling in question had been born blind.  With humans, too, for the vast majority of our long existence, blind or very sick babies, the very old, or those who could not run fast enough, got left behind when the herds migrated.  Nasty by today's standards, but the entire tribe would have suffered and been killed off, or died off, had the sick or infirm been kept around.  The same natural force was at work: the balance between wanting to improve the lot of your tribe and tolerating the weak: greediness at work to effect the long-term benefit one’s own genes in a social species, no matter how painful the short-term cost was.   

Today what’s began with the Tea Party movement and carried over to the Occupy Movement is a new revolution.  The old order of the late 20th century is about to come unglued.  The Tea Party is filled with old farts who cling to what worked a half-century ago and expect these formerly successful tactics will continue to work best to keep themselves and their prodigy alive.  It cannot work the same way ever again, but their change-averse, atrophied old brains can’t grasp this fact.  Ironically, it was the Tea Partiers' protests that helped give birth to the "Occupy" protests.  The young and very liberal members of America, galled by the old farts proactivity, were spurred into action.  The Occupy group is generally young, flexible and determined (after all, the survival of their genes are at stake).  The latter "get" that things have to change, and radically, if their own kids are to survive, let alone do as well as their parent's generation.  

[Feb. 2016 addendum: It was the 2011 Occupy protests four and a half years earlier, following the failure of the government to in any substantive way punish the perpetrators of the global financial crisis of 2008 (that wiped out the retirement and university fund savings of so many of the middle class) that both led to the activism that won Obama a landslide second term and, amazingly, opened the door to a Socialist, Bernie Sanders, emerging from the shadows of McCarthyism and the manipulations of the Billionaire Class via the Republican Party, to go head to head with Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the Presidential race.  Without a conflagration to inspire the many to rise up and look for radical solutions, REAL societal change rarely takes place.]

The old financial model worked fine when everyone was struggling out of the general poverty of the late 19th century, but post WW II, largely because of “The American Dream”, the entire world’s poor have moved into, or been exposed to the possibility of moving into, the middle and higher classes.  Now that the Internet has put every American movie ever made into the hands (literally on smart phones, more broadly on TV’s via DVD players) of even the poorest of the poor via their richer cousin/neighbour owning a TV, everyone on the planet wants some wealth and understands what that wealth looks like.  (I've lived in 'developing world countries' for many years -- they learn a lot about what 'normal' can look like with some exposure to Arnold Schwarzenegger's old comedy movies, watching them in the evenings on a communal TV and DVD player on a bunch of folding chairs under a bare light bulb).

The antiquated 19th century model of the ‘landed gentry’ and ‘privileged few’ making all the money from the poor and keeping it for themselves isn’t going to cut it anymore.  What this newly wealthy and fairly well-educated (in part by Hollywood) group is starting to demand is fair distribution of all the wealth that exists on the planet.  Most of that wealth comes from the privileged few paying off the politicos in power to get natural resources for virtually free (oil, gas, minerals, forests, etc.), processing those 'free' resources and selling them back to the masses (Coke and Pepsi do this with tap water today).  

There’s really zero reason that these privileged few are entitled to the cash.  Really none. They did not work any harder to become the owner of the diamond mine than the poorest poor worker who puts in 80-100 hours a week for years without a day off down in the muck doing the mining, but there they are, spitting down on the workers.  Many of those workers have higher IQ’s than the mine/factory owners, but they have had no access to education, so the claim that the mine owner is 'smarter' and therefore more deserving is utter bullshit -- they were simply luckier (born into a richer family), or more cut-throat (low empathy and highly aggressive).

Mark my words, in your lifetime you are going to witness one of the greatest social upheavals in our species’ history (watch this video clip from a 1985 BBC show). Shit is going to go down and the idea that the entire global human population’s fortunes depend on the ‘concerns’ of a bunch of 1% traders on the world’s few stock exchanges is going to be challenged.  That system was built in the privileged men’s club rooms of the 19th century (“I say, old boy, if you lend me a million to risk on digging up some diamonds, I’ll cut you in on the potential profits, and I’ll invest a million in your latest venture down the road!”). 
What all of this shit is REALLY based upon, is our natural human tendency to very quickly start feeling entitled.  Ghaddifi and Hussein’s kids were raping and pillaging, driving around in their Lamborghinis a year ago.  (Turns out they aren’t as entitled to be ‘special’ as they’d been brought up to believe!)  This new generation (60% of all the population in the Middle East is under 15) isn’t going to stand for a few pathological megalomaniacs holding power over them and keeping them poor.  Neither are the Millennials in Canada, the States or other 'developed nations' (and you KNOW that those rich old boys have done their share of assassinating to keep things going their way for the past 200 years).

Join the eventual winning side with all the soldiers in it, or cling to the ancient winners of the past.  Your call!

On a similar note: The Poor Deserve to Stay Poor Because They Are All Lazy, Stupid (and Genetically Inferior, of Course) 


  1. You're wrong, and horribly missing the point.
    Capitalism is not natural selection, it is our environment, the environment of the capitalists that we are.
    Natural selection is about symbiosis between an organism and it's environment, it doesn't matter which one changes for the needs of the other, what matters is that
    1) only stable systems last.
    2) why would an economic system invented by humans be any less real than a neuronal predisposition to learning language, or a birds neuronal predisposition to learning flight autodidactically.
    3) those old men are changing the environment and the distinction between it and the organisms in habiting it are merely platonic.
    Those old men are getting stronger not weaker.

    1. Dear "Anonymous":
      1) Anyone not posting with their Google+ or Facebook (etc.) identity are announcing to the world that they are hiding from any criticism of their moronic delusions. If you think you are clever enough to criticize me, then 'own' your opinion with your name.
      2) Your first two words say volumes about how open to the reality of the world around you as revealed by daily advancements in scientific understanding. If I can be 'wrong', then obviously YOU can be 'wrong', and if you are wrong....
      3) As for your choice of the word "horribly", it smacks of another word commonly used by religious people: "offended". The religious fervour with which viewers of Fox News like yourself cling to notions (invented by humans like yourself) that humans are 'naturally' capitalists and that anyone deigning to deny that there is ANY shred of scientific proof for this delusional (but highly self-congratulatory) 'belief' is evidence of just how false it is.
      As for the rest of your pseudo-scientific defence (using words like "neuronal" and "auto didactically" doesn't vault you into the realm of people with above average IQ who understand basic scientific principles), the fact that you try to argue two irreconcilable concepts makes any point (?) you are tying to make moot: if something is "invented" by human conceptual thinking it is, by definition, 'invented' and therefore entirely and completely "less real" than clearly demonstrable (scientifically replicable) hard-wired instincts in other animal species. Next you'll be arguing that the fact that scientists have now been able to identify the genetically hard-wired 'neuronal pathways' that give rise to humankind's universal tendency to invent (and then cling to) religion is proof that our invention of our wildly varied religious stories around the globe is proof that the gods really do exist. (Oops! Did I 'offend' you by failing to capitalize 'gods'? My sincere apologies to you and your fellow relgious brethren.)
      If clinging to your ‘beliefs’ makes your brain exceedingly happy, then cling away, but don't pester the rest of us with your addiction to your own brain chemicals by trying to use 'sciencey' sounding words and tautological arguments to try to bamboozle the rest of us into agreeing with you.
      Capitalism benefits the few, not our entire species, and as such it is an unstable system that will most definitely NOT last, despite our human hard-wiring for self-interest/greed. There will ALWAYS be extremely low-empathy, self-centered people like yourself amongst us who are clever enough to try to come up with ‘proof’ that your self-interest should be encouraged and supported by the rest of us.
      Sorry, as time goes by our human tendency to share information for the benefit of the tribe (not the individual) will out. The majority will eventually gather enough scientific understanding to realize we must suppress the self-interests of OCD/ADHD individuals and ensure that their impulses and clever inventions work towards the benefit of our ENTIRE species and the planet (our wholistic environment) rather than allow this minority to bully their way to the top of the corporate, political and economic ladders and then write laws and rules and regulations (or the lack thereof) that benefit only themsleves and their offspring while claiming that their success is genetically-predetermined proof of their superiority over the rest of us. Your time is almost up! Get used to it. :-)

    2. Greetings Kevin. I really like your comment, and I agree with a lot of what you have to say, but do you really have to attack this guy because you don't agree with him?

      I mean you no offense, and I simply offer this as food for thought.

    3. Well, Darpinion (and good for you for 'owning' your commentary!), my strong self-defense against the anonymous critic above was not exactly an 'attack' because I don't agree with him, it was merely a 'Rebuttal' in a debate that I began with my post (the 'Resolution'), then he responded with a 'Case' counter to mine. I used strong wording principally because his points were not in any way scientific or logical, they are merely statements of his convictions (opinions) based upon ego and change-aversion.

      One of the great intellectuals of the latter part of the last century, Isaac Asimov, wrote: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” What 'Anonymous' was postulating was that because something has existed for some time (Capitalism) it has thus proven itself to be a 'stable system' and therefore should continue. He then goes on to say that whatever emerges from human brains working together socially is the same as intuitive, inherent behaviours that have evolved through natural selection, like our instinct to save a small, big-eyed baby from death at risk of dying ourselves even if the baby isn't ours. This is non-scientific (his opinion) and runs DIRECTLY counter to the scientific case I was making, so of course I will vigorously defend my case.

      Lastly, his final point is both true (the 'old men' of the 'Billionaire Class' are indeed changing the social environment the rest of us live in and they are only getting stronger), but also includes both the incorrect use of a 'big word' ("Platonic" means two people who would normally be mutually attracted, but inspire each other intellectually without any romantic/sexual feelings existing) in an attempt to 'sound smart' and postulates a fundamental falsehood, that the environment these Capitalist 'old men' are changing that we all live in is of no real consequence to the rest of us. The fact that the Billionaire Class has manipulated the US government to the point that their taxes have dropped from 94% in 1942, to 70% in the 1970's, to virtually nothing today (due to loopholes) and most of the new new revenues being generated today in the US go to the top 0.1% (the Billionaire Class) are of MAJOR consequence to the 99%. They are only getting poorer as the 'Money Hoarders' continue to get stronger and work to keep more of the planet's wealth out of the hands of the rest.

      My entire point, Darpinion, is that it is time for a revolution, a redistribution of wealth through taxes that takes the vast sums of money that the top 0.1% of the world's human population take out of the hands of the 99% and puts most people on an even playing field. Capitalism is at the root of the problem (as it their gambling pool, the stock market) and it is people in the 99% who are hard-wired for Conservatism and change-aversion -- even when it actually is terribly detrimental to them and their families, like 'Anonymous' -- who cannot see the problem and actually work actively to stand in the way of improving their lot by agitating for change.

      Luckily, due to the Occupy Movement and the fed-up majority, Obama and Bernie Sanders can get elected and change things for the better -- hopefully permanently, and we'll all be better off.

    4. Kevin, I really enjoy your insight and brilliant analytical and linear thinking style. I completely agree with you that he was trying to throw a few $10 words around to appear as if he's playing on an equal playing ground as you (in terms of insight, and understanding). Anyone with an IQ above 120 would have been able to spot the "move" he was trying to employ in adopting an argument that was obviously fallacious from the beginning.

      I've read a lot of your forum posts, and I enjoy much of your writing. You inspire me to work on my writing, and my blog much more.

      Understanding the word platonic isn't really anything special, so when he used it in the improper context, I also threw out an "Oh boy! another one of these dudes?!" expressions.

      I've spent a lot of time practicing the literary forms of free-verse, and spoken word poetry on the exact topic of revolution within this country. I have a piece on another blog called "Fuck The System" that I think you'd really enjoy. If you're interested let me know and I'll shoot you a link.

      Do you have anything to say about allegations that the Occupy Movement was a collaboration between "hacktivists" and hackers in LuLz Sec, and the FBI after "Sabu" was arrested for charges of computer fraud, or something along those lines? This is something I was reading about recently and I'm not saying it's true or false. I'd like to hear what someone who is obviously educated on the topic has to say about it before adopting any semblance of an opinion.

      Thanks for your correspondence.



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