Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 12, No. 5, 2013
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Lynda Renée
Betsy L. Chunko
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors Serge Gamache
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
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




The world is divine because the world is inconsequential.
That is why art alone, by being equally inconsequential,
is capable of grasping it.
Albert Camus

Science gathers knowledge
faster than society gathers wisdom.
Isaac Asimov

The question that isn’t being asked is what’s happening – if anything of significance -- on the natural selection front? Who isn’t breeding, and is the natural selection process streamlining the human gene pool so the species is better fit to face its most critical challenges?

A quick glance around the world reveals two groups in particular are dying off: infants and children that can’t feed themselves, and young soldiers fighting in wars. However, this form of selective gene-death has had virtually no qualitative impact on the gene pool, since the hard wiring that accounts for human behaviour remains unchanged. Despite our fondest hopes in desperate times, there is no indication that a new and improved version of Homo sapiens is coming to the fore to more effectively manage himself, and by extension, his natural and man-made environments.

If we agree that we would rather our best and not second best pilot our planes, perform our medical surgeries, we self-evidently prefer that either natural selection or selective forms of human governance provide for the fittest of Homo sapiens to lead the species. We want our most capable to be able to make those crucial decisions that bear directly on the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. In short, we want to be led by men of wisdom, or by whom the Greeks designated as the philosopher kings.

But there is considerable evidence (and accusation) that the world’s elected and self-appointed leaders harbour, pace Freud, a not so secret species death wish. Conservatives and liberals, secularists and theists, capitalists and environmentalists alike, with the backing of scientific reports and leading social indicators, routinely charge the other of preparing the ground for the ‘Apocalypse Soon’ obscenario from which there will be no exit or redemption. What is constant in this ice-cap melting pessimism is that the dire warnings are coming from every corner of the earth, and the din, like white noise, isn’t being heard, forcing the conclusion that man’s much touted faculties of reason upon which he has set huge store are in fact bit players of no consequence in a game which can’t be won because ‘reason’ can’t break into the lineup.

An idea that is incapable of inciting men to action lies somewhere (or nowhere) between being and nothingness. I can sing the praises and cite a litany of reasons why it is desirable for men to be charitable, but if men don’t give, charity doesn’t exist, other than as a weightless, spineless abstract concept.

What isn’t weightless or spineless is the institution of the corporation. As a multi-tentacled entity that has wrapped itself worrisomely tight around the good earth, the corporation was conceived so men could do what they wanted instead of what they should. Camus, in The Rebel, unblinkingly observes: “The entire history of mankind is nothing but a prolonged fight to the death for the conquest of universal prestige and absolute power,” where the latter discovers the corporation is the most effective means to its ends. Next to the powers wielded by the corporation, the great conquerors from the past (Alexander, Attila, Genghis Kahn, Charlemagne) are feather weights.

From natural resources to financial markets to the armies of the night, humans don’t want to share power, they want to amass and control it. The time-honoured separation of power principles first proposed in the 18th century (Montesquieu) is a concept that is outrageously foreign to human nature.

The corporation, in its formative years, understood that in order to attain real power it would have to wrest money away from government, which it did by creating a taxable third party (a non-human entity), a ruse which left the treasury with less money and the corporation with more. During the past century, the corporation has gradually gained control of the world’s financial institutions and natural resources while divided governments, in thrall to separation of power clauses, countervail with artful doublespeak before submitting to the will and directives of the Halliburtons and their lobbies. That the corporation, in its present guise, is in danger of poisoning the well from which it drinks speaks to both government impotence and human nature relentlessly asserting its will.

It’s not government but corporations that determine who gets what, when a country goes to war, and what countries they will help and hurt. The US tax code, a mere 70,000 pages long, largely writ by the corporation, is the nation's equivalent of the constitution. Since the goal of the corporation is profit, and since you can add an indefinite number of zeros to a dollar figure, the corporation can never be satisfied. In pathological pursuit of profit, it has turned much of the earth into a wasteland and Homo sapiens into endangered species.

In light of the dark side of human nature whose authority goes unchallenged, and a benighted planet we refuse to see in the light of day, it beggars belief that the best minds of our generation are not asking if the methods and operations of natural selection are allowing for the kind of correction that is necessary for the species to save itself from itself?

Natural selection can be said to be doing its job well when a species is being led by its most fit. However, when conditions on the ground suddenly change, the selection process requires considerable evolutionary time to catch up with these new changes, and it doesn’t care what life forms emerge to face the challenges of the new environment.

In the African savannah, the lay of the land favours the thin-legged Uganda kob because its speed allows it to outrun its natural enemies. But if an unforseen influx of predators were to force the kob into rocky terrain where being able to climb is the difference between life and death, over time, not just the fastest but those kobs capable of climbing would enjoy a selective advantage and the alpha status which insures reproductive entitlement.

If we grant that Homo sapiens is in the midst of a similar life threatening crisis, will natural selection arrange for a more fit (rational) species to better handle with care its one and only habitat?

Beginning with the Bronze and Iron Ages, but especially since the Industrial Revolution, the species has shown itself to be increasingly incapable of making wise decisions as it concerns the health of its habitat. The air we breathe is bad-going-on-worse while our oceans are turning into acid. And when you factor in the continuing proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the volatility of human nature, it could very well be that nothing less than a new configuration of man is required to lead Homo sapiens through this most difficult period in his evolution.

According to our apocalypseticians, there are two huge negative events on the near horizon which potentially threaten the existence of the entire species: a far-reaching, all destructive nuclear holocaust; or the earth becomes uninhabitable due to extreme environmental poisoning. Either one of these catastrophic events has the potential to lay the genetic groundwork for the emergence of a new and improved version of man.

Let us hypothesize a nuclear holocaust and 10,000 survivors who are exceptionally constituted to withstand otherwise toxic levels of radiation. There is no reason not to expect that during the next 5,000 years these survivors will eventually produce the kind of world that we recognize today since they will be genetically the same in every respect but one. And once again man will find himself facing the same challenges of providing for seven billion, and having to manage his unruly nature and weapon systems capable of destroying the planet. You can be sure the corporation will be calling (and firing) the shots on the way to the bank while once again “things fall apart . . . (and) mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” So what’s the point if it’s going to be more of the same, if, after near-extinction, man’s nature remains essentially unchanged? Optimistically, if all that is required to save the planet is that man be either 15% more rational or empathetic, what accidents or interventions must take place for this higher being to assume his historical mission?

The disconsolate fact of the matter is that there is no guarantee that natural selection (in short term) will provide for a more fit version of Homo sapiens -- at least without a huge element of luck. If only 500 were to survive a nuclear holocaust and the few who are capable of breeding just happen to be constitutionally more rational and empathetic, it is in deed possible that a much improved version of the species will take command.

Presently on earth, there surely exists these higher types, but they are not emotionally equipped to wrestle power from the powerful; and looking forward it is almost impossible to imagine an event, either natural or man-made, that would allow for their ascension.


Unreasonable men are slowly doing away with themselves everywhere on the planet because human intelligence, at the adolescent stage of its development, is simply not capable of overruling choices that are indisputably harmful. From smoking, to the abuse of drugs and alcohol, to making critically unwise decisions concerning diet and exercise, there is no behavioural evidence that man regards his one and only life as sacred. The individual may, in theory, perfectly understand that in his choices he is betraying -- at the highest level -- the gift of life, but he lacks the mental muscle, the will, to outthink his self-destructive tendencies.

On a much larger and consequential scale, the corporation -- proxy for man’s worst instincts -- is proactively abetting those destructive tendencies. That the corporation is a runaway train that will not survive the next major turn in the track since it owns and controls both the train and the track threatens to corroborate Freud’s death-wish theory and expose man’s unholy unfitness for his times.

Perhaps in some not so distant future, biogeneticists will be able to reconfigure the brain in order to diminish the role human nature plays in the affairs of man, but that would require, en masse, the world’s elites voluntarily ceding power to their lab-tweaked betters, which of course is a non-starter.

In the meantime, natural selection is biding its time, which it has in abundance, knowing full well that a more intelligent and fit species will one day take over the reigns and finally do honour to the planet and the life it sustains.


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