Sunday, 6 March 2011

Economic Growth: A Darwinian Perspective

In nature there is perpetual growth, at least in respect to successful populations, whose individual members then compete for resources, survival and reproductive success, thereby keeping the population fit and well adapted to its environment, at the cost, however, of all those individuals who are out-competed and perish. It’s harsh, but the way evolution works at this level.
At the level of an individual organism things are very different. Growth is carefully controlled and directed, where it is required, and stopped where it is not. When the control mechanism fails CANCER is the result.
Populations of human “prime apes” are no exception, although there is a strong subjective tendency to assume we are. It’s an assumption which is given some credence by the confusion resulting from most human populations having been organised into STATES, posing as NATIONS, which, when genuine, are a natural extension and abstraction of the individual’s original TRIBE, which developed, as a product of human behavioural evolution, as a kind of super-organism, a level of social organisation which the individual depended on and was thus subordinate to.
Only, the nations states pose as are not genuine, but inventions, to facilitate control and manipulation of the population in question as a “human resource”, and in more recent times, a market, to be exploited to the advantage of power, wealth, privilege and TALENT.
States do serve their “human resources”, of course, which are dependent on it, but as a shepherd serves his flock, not primarily for the flocks sake, but for his and/or his employer’s sake, for the meat and wool the flock provides and can be exchanged at market for MONEY.
The exploitation isn’t usually conscious, and when it is, it’s rationalised. Nor is the line between exploiters and exploited always clearly defined, certainly not in the modern world, although in the past it was much clearer, at least with hindsight, with aristocracy and clergy cooperating (one wielding the power of the sword, the other the power of the word) in creating the state itself in order to facilitate “society’s”, i.e. the peasants, exploitation to their shared advantage, while granting privileges to useful members of certain professions, such as bankers, merchants, some artists, inventors, etc.
In this context, it is also important to consider that human behaviour and emotions evolved in response to two very different environments: one intra-tribal the other extra-tribal, which the state effectively conflates and confounds, playing the role of our tribe (and intra-tribal environment) on the one hand, while at the same time, on the other, also facilitating society’s self-exploitation as an extra-tribal environment.
It is no wonder that in the modern world, where advancing technology and turbo capitalism have greatly intensified exploitation of both the natural and human environments, “human beings”, who didn’t evolve to be abused as a “resource” or “market”, should feel so stressed and confused, giving rise to so much anti-social and/or self-destructive behaviour.
In trying to understand politicians’ obsession with perpetual economic growth, the MADNESS of which, on our finite, vulnerable and overpopulated planet, one would have thought obvious even to a child, the following explanation occurred to me:
That it is perhaps an expression of the same instinctive, subconscious drive for reproductive success, which, in the artificial environment of modern “society”, it has come to supplement or even replace. The MADNESS of it to an unblickered intelligence, is hidden by ignoring or rationalising it, as if under the influence of some form of collective post-hypnotic suggestion.
Even now, despite the growing threat of overpopulation, politicians are still desperate to maintain, if not actually increase, their country’s population (by encouraging a higher birth rate and inviting mass immigration). The same also applies to the Catholic Church, which has many characteristics of a STATE, not least of which is its obsession with POWER.
The drive for reproductive success (increasing population) and power (which would greatly increase an individual’s (especially male) chances of survival and mating opportunities, made good evolutionary sense in the natural environment humans evolved in long before the advent of civilisation. But does it continue to make good evolutionary, or any other kind of sense NOW . . . ?
The answer to that question should be obvious. But unfortunately, our brains evolved to “interpret” reality (i.e. its environment, which now largely comprises the civilisation it has itself helped to create) to its own, highly subjective, narrow and short-sighted advantage, the most tragic example of which (although it has yet to play out) is the refusal of our political, business and media elites and leaders to heed the warnings, which began in earnest way back in the early 1970s, relating to the inherent non-sustainability, on our finite, vulnerable and overpopulated planet, of our rapacious, growth-dependent economy and the grossly materialistic lifestyles and lifestyle aspirations it both engendered and depended on.

No comments:

Post a Comment