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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 12, No. 3, 2013
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
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Betsy L. Chunko
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Diane Gordon
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Mady Bourdage
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Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
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Michael Moore
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Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

survival of the fittest organizing principles



Plato . . . No wife, no children had he,
and the thinkers of all civilized nations

are his posterity.


It’s the non-negotiable drive and desire of every man to want to project himself, his genes, into the indefinite future. Until quite recently in human evolution, a man’s fitness was measured by his survival skills and breeding proficiency.

The traits and qualities that constitute evolutionary fitness have been selected because they best respond to the critical challenges of a particular environment. In tropical and equatorial climates, black skin, with six times more melanin, is better suited than white skin to deal with the sun’s cancer causing ultraviolet rays. In temperate zone climes, white skin is six times more receptive than black skin to sunlight and Vitamin D, essential in the production of calcium. In compact brush, short people are more likely to survive than tall people, and thus the pygmy.

In each of the above situations, the genes responsible for a particular attribute have been selected for their adaptive qualities while non-adaptive genes have been eliminated.

When we speak of gene fitness, we are referring to a blue-print, a specific set of instructions that enables the individual, in the context of a group, to optimally deal with the trials and hadrships of daily life. Where it is essential to distinguish prey or natural food from a non-specific background, a primitive tribe beset by a dominant gene for colour blindness will not survive. A tribe whose hunters are limited to a spear projection of 20 meters will be at a disadvantage compared to a tribe whose best can project that same spear 50 meters. In a lethal contest over territory, a people that has invented gun powder will have a significant advantage over another that is still in its bow and arrow phase.

Evolutionary fitness, pared down to its irreducibles, consists of information (genotypic) that enables the individual, as it manifests in his choices and intentional life (phenotypic), to best respond to the pressures of survival.

Every civilization requires an elite cadre of caretakers (engineers, physicists, educators) who are capable of maintaining, operating and refining the highly complex network of relationships upon which a given way of life depends. The advances in medicine and technology that we take for granted implicate not only our DNA-determined natural attributes but ability to formulate vital organizing principles (OPs), specific knowledge clusters that are essential to whatever stage of civilization we happen to be considering. When a people discovers that boiling water kills potentially lethal germs, this principle, over time, positively affects every member of the species. When at a later stage of development, someone discovers that chlorinating water achieves a better – more penetrating -- result, that refinement translates into a further enhancement. These sine qua non organizing principles are passed on from one generation to the next because they are essential to the species at each and every stage of its development. And yet in consideration of posterity, men continue to hold in highest esteem their procreative clout, and not their life’s work, which begs the question.

Is there a case to be made that ideas that have survived hundreds if not thousands of years are more significant that anyone’s genetic legacy? Have we failed to make the leap from the revolutionary evolutionary insights of Charles Darwin to making explicit the binding relationship between survival of the fittest organizing principles and the health and well being of the species? In its wisdom, wouldn't posterity select the inventor of a wonder drug over his offspring whose influence, until quite recently in human evolution, would have been restricted to a very limited geographical range?

We live in an age where the most educated and productive members of society are breeding the least, while the least successful are breeding the most, resulting in, as some geneticists argue, the systematic degradation of the human gene pool. For especially successful but barren men bearing self-induced tragic witness to their line coming to a dead-end, this trend, © Roberto Romei Rotondodespite the robust numbers (Homo sapiens is seven billion and counting) is cause for concern only because men reflexively continue to disproportionately emphasize breeding fitness over the fitness of those organizing principles that may have benefited the entire species. Are not the discoveries of the polio vaccine (Jonas Salk) and penicillin (Alexander Fleming) of significantly greater species import than the sum of their discoverers’ progeny?

Or what about writers who leave us enduring archetypes that enable us to negotiate the hazards of everyday life and make wiser decisions as it concerns our dealings with especially those who would do us harm? Do we not understand better for all time the nature of power and man's predilection to abuse it thanks to our fictional encounter with Shakespeare’s Richard III?

Does not the music of Mozart reveal what is most civilized and dignified in the race, such that those who respond to his music are uniquely qualified to convert those exceptional feelings into existential deeds?

A prolific breeder may very well extend his seed into hundreds of future generations but a successful organizing principle can influence every human being on the planet and become one of the enduring pillars of wisdom upon which every civilizational advance rests. One only has to look at a map of the world and compare countries with high birth rates to countries that produce the most enduring ideas and ask which ethos (praxis) produces the fittest nations -- those most likely to prevail when the going gets rough?

And as for the multitude of the unexceptional – the planet’s essential worker bees -- the smallest of ‘doing the right thing’ can make a right difference.

The discipline of epigenetics, that presupposes certain inheritable traits as neither strictly biological nor cultural, studies the transmission of nongenetic patterns and behaviour. A parent’s or society’s negative or positive self-esteem, manner in dealing with stress and poverty can be epigenetically passed on to the child, which explains why someone who has been physically or psychologically abused during his youth will predictably become an abuser adult. The simple but exemplary life of Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) has been an animating force for nearly a millennium, and directly inspired the new Pope (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) to adopt the name of Francis I.

Since there is no escaping the gaze and judgment of the other, we, influenced and influencer, are inescapably ambassadors of our beliefs and values. If I was once bad and become good, I will be seen as such, and there is no telling how far and wide that OP may travel. As mimetic beings, we are equally predisposed to imitating a neighbour who cleans up the garbage in front of his home as the neighbour who does not. As links in the great chain of cause and effect that extend far beyond any individual’s life, our choices -- memes sent out into the world -- surely count for at least as much as our progeny.

How different our world would be if we, en masse, made the gradual degradation of a product (from cars to clothes) the sole criterion of replacement. By that formula, most automobiles would last between 15 and 20 years, which would be a pain in the butt of capitalism’s bottom line but a boon for the planet. At this stage of human development are we more in need of more human beings or good ideas?

From the most primitive to advanced cultures, we are all born into worlds that are comprised of millions upon millions of givens (theres) that are the end result of the evolution, amalgamation and refinement of countless organizing principles that constitute civilization. In River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins notes that man is now capable of digitally projecting radio waves into outer space, and that if and when these "pulses of meaning" are intercepted by intelligent extraterrestrial life, that foreign life will first encounter not man himself, but his organizing principles, which should give men serious pause who belittle themselves for not having left progeny to posterity. That it is becoming more and more common for women in their 20s and 30s to be attracted to men in their 50s and 60s, points to the growing recognition that being able to give birth to and project ideas into the world is what separates the real men from the boys, and is a virility more and more women are turning onto.

Since virility -- that which is most manly in men -- has always been about the individual’s ability to influence and shape the future, I propose that we are at the dawn of a new age of virility, and that the survival of any nation is directly proportional to the fitness of its organizing principles and the Übermenschen that give birth to them.

If we rise in defiance against the notion that “Only A God Can Save Us,” are we resolved to elect, before it is too late, those men who are man enough to identify, articulate and implement those organizing principles upon which the planet’s very survival depends?

“Man is something that should be overcome . . . a rope over an abyss.”

Cartoon © Roberto RomeiRotondo


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You yield your fate and, by presumption, that of the rest of mankind, on the lap of “nature.”
But as “nature” is capable of neither thinking nor caring. What makes you think nature favours your evolution?

If we are nothing but a pack of genes what gives you the illusion Nature gives a damn about us?
If anything, as creatures endowed with the gift of thought, of imagination, we (humans) pose the greatest threat to Nature.We are an aberration, self-conscious freaks best be gotten rid of.

If Nature is in and of itself (though automatically and UNAWARELY) the Absolute Power governing the Universe would it not transform humans into harmless (natural) apes? And why, as a “nature” lover would you find this disturbing?

also by Robert J. Lewis:
Understanding Rape
Have Idea Will Travel
Bikini Jihad
The Reader Feedback Manifesto
Caste the First Stone
Let's Get Cultured
Being & Baggage
Robert Mapplethorpe
The Eclectic Switch

Philosophical Time
What is Beauty?
In Defense of Heidegger

Hijackers, Hookers and Paradise Now
Death Wish 7 Billion
My Gypsy Wife Tonight
On the Origins of Love & Hate
Divine Right and the Unrevolted Masses
Cycle Hype or Genotype
The Genocide Gene


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