Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is Mankind a Mistake?

I am often asked whether I think we humans are,
by nature, vicious savages. Given mankind’s
dreary historical record for wars, genocides,
torture, and other organized methods of mutual
destruction, are we destined to be the only
species to drive itself to extinction by mass
slaughter? Arthur Koestler posed that question
years ago, suggesting that empowering a killer
ape with great intelligence may have made mankind
an evolutionary mistake.
Mankind’s history has long been a trail marked
by blood and broken bodies. But note the
circumstances under which such wholesale butchery
occurs: only when we organize ourselves into
groups with which we identify our sense of being.

[My emphasis]
In one-to-one dealings with our fellow humans,
we have a remarkably good record, behaving as
anarchists (i.e., respecting the inviolability of
the lives and property interests of others, and
being responsible for the consequences of our
actions). Virtually all of what you and I do in
our personal lives is contrary to the coercive,
violent, destructive, death-inflicting behavior
of political systems. It is when we remove
ourselves from our personal relationships with
others and organize ourselves into abstract
entities (e.g., the nation-state) that we let
loose upon the rest of humanity those "dark side"
forces that political systems find it so easy and
profitable to mobilize into destructive
campaigns. Our basic decency as individuals tends
to dissolve when we become members of collective
If we are prepared to explore our own thinking,
and to follow the movement of our own thought, we
may be able to transcend our institutionalized
conditioning by discovering that, because "war is
the health of the state," our best strategy for
survival – both as individuals and as a species –
is to never allow ourselves to become politically

I'm convinced that all the Pragmatism, Reality,
Science and technology won't mean or yield squat
without most believing and acting on this.

So fucking simple.

Hey, I didn't say it'd be easy.

Full article.