Aggression between members of the same species can be
seen as an adaptation to predation, groups that fail
to implement it eventually go extinct and individuals that
perform badly are also likely to fall victim to predation.
This effect no longer holds when a species uses technology.
Darwin has made one of the most important scientific discoveries of all sciences: how life evolves under the pressures of the environment it is living in.
The focus of Darwin was on plants and on animals. One of the most constant pressures that all animals and plants live under, is the proximity to predators, and the necessity to catch prey. An animal may not be a predator itself, but in almost all cases violent fights emerge, where the winner continues to live, and the loser ends up as food.
A rose develops thorns, because the plants which are more difficult to eat, will be chosen as food later, or will escape becoming food altogether. Those roses with the largest thorns will survive best, and those - even of the same species - that have smaller thorns, survive with more trouble. As a result, the roses with the largest thorns produce most offspring; unless the necessity to combat predators conflicts with other interests too much. The pressures from predation press all species to develop more and more lethal weapons in their body.
In exactly the same way claws, teeth, venom, etc emerge: weapons. Weapons which are a part of the body of the plant or animal. Even if an animal can be found which is not hunted, it will be very likely that somewhere in the distant past this animal has been under attack. Reptiles descended from fish, and even though a reptile might be found that isn't presently hunted, it is extremely likely that its distant ancestors were. The evolutionary effects of the predator/prey interaction are deeply embedded into all species. Including humanity, which descended only a relatively short while ago from monkeys/apes.
Many animals use a trick to adapt themselves quicker to predators. Suppose two groups of 100 animals, males and females, group 1 and 2. For instance wildebeest. We assume that children take to their parents. Both groups are under threat from the usual predators: lions, hyenas, crocodiles, etc. A wildebeest has horns, with which it defends itself when attacked.
Group 1 forms pairs one on one, where the wildebeest attempt to get children of average size. Large wildebeest will mate with small, and average sized wildebeest with another average sized. The chances are that the new generation will have a fairly equal size. The children look somewhat like their parents.
In the other group, wildebeest fight for the right to have children. Every male wildebeest attempts to get as many females under him as possible, and to defend them from attacks from other wildebeest males. Result will be that those wildebeest that are the best fighters, will have children, so that the children of this group will be the better fighters. In the other group there was no test for who is or is not a good fighter.
The children of both groups grow up in their own culture and with the instincts of their parents, and repeat the behavior of their group, for millions of years. Both groups will evolve into better fighters (use and shape of their horns, kicking, biting, etc), because in both groups the predators take out the weak fighting wildebeest more then the strong fighting wildebeest. In group 1 the worst fighters don't get children either.
However, the development in group 1 is much slower in the direction of good fighters. Group 2 is not waiting for the actions of predators, fighting is pursued immediately and it becomes established who has best chances on successful children. Where group 1 might only lose the worst 1% fighters as an influence on the next generation, group 2 only allows its best 10% fighters to mate, in addition to losing their worst 1% fighters to predators.
Ever since man threw its first stones to predator or prey long ago, man has had access to a completely new kind of weaponry. A kind of weaponry that is not stuck to the body, like thorns on a rose, or teeth in a skull.
This is having a fundamental impact on the pressures of evolution. Where it could take millions of years to improve a weapon slightly, this is now a conscious cultural creative process. Where it used to be necessary to fight in order to develop weapons quicker, to stay ahead of other animals doing the same thing, this necessity has disappeared.
Humanity became ever more powerful, until it was so powerful that even the weakest fighters were no longer routinely killed by predators, and suffer no setback from their weak fighting talents when finding prey. The predators are usually behind bars in a zoo, are on TV, or at least everyone can carry a firearm when exploring a wild area. The prey animals are waiting shrink wrapped in a local store.
Where the not talented fighters do not die as they used to from external factors, the aggressive still die at the effects of their own violence. In the distant past this was a small price to pay, and it were the worse fighters that died at the hands of the better. But because because the non-fighters don't die as they used to, two groups emerge: a group which fights over dominance, and a group which does this less or not at all. Although the domination-group attacks everyone, this group has in principle a higher frequency of violent confrontations, is more often spoiling for violence. The Darwinian (popularized) rule seem to have reversed, thanks to technological development: no longer `survival of the strongest', but `extinction of those seeking domination through violence/deception', `extinction of the strong fighters'.
From the above can be concluded, that strife to the death, fighting for dominance, fighting to control an area as large as possible, greed and lust for power, can all be reduced to behaviors which belong in an animal species that stimulates internal violence in order to improve its survivability in an environment where violent confrontations are the rule. It is morally "good" for your species to be an aggressive animal, to overpower your rivals when territory or children are at stake.
The situation for humanity changes more and more when technology improves. The less the technology depends on the physical body, the less useful internal violence becomes. Humanity has recently made a qualitative jump in this regard. Not only is internal violence no longer useful to develop our weaponry, our weapons have become destructive to such a level, that they have become almost the only thing which threatens us as a species today.
From being a necessity for survival, via something which was superfluous, internal violence has now become our greatest enemy.
In a way this situation is very elegant. If humanity apparently relishes so much in internal violence (crime, war), then she will probably destroy herself. Then only non technological animals remain, where this violence has its place, and can be enjoyed without the danger of a worldwide disaster when one wildebeest tries to take a patch of soil from another. Technology and war do eventually not mix, the choice is between one or the other. A world ultimately based on internal strive, is a world which fosters the psychology of war. It may only be a matter of time before such a psychology causes actual war, and the destruction of the only technological species on Earth.
The above also suggests, that a psychology of solidarity with all people, will be the only scientifically feasible foundation of a society of humans (society of technological animals).
Humanity would win the `battle for survival', if it stopped fighting.
Juli 2 2006
© Copyright Jos Boersema, hereby released into the Public Domain: you can distribute the material, and modify it.
Stage 1: Internal war is productive for the survival of humanity
Weapon: Emerged: Type: Destruction: -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * teeth/bite | since | body | ruptures in several | animals with | part | inches | teeth/mouth | | | | | Range: zero -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * fist | -same- | -same- | extravasation in | | | several square inches | | | Range: zero (1 meter) -------------+------------------+------------------+---------------------
Stage 2: Internal war works favorably, but is not necessary
Weapon: Emerged: Type: Destruction: -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * throwing | very very long | found object | Destruction of one stone | time ago | and muscle power | liter material | | | Range: 20 meter -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * club | very long time | crafted object | Destruction of one | ago | and muscle power | liter material | | | Range: 1 meter -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * speer | very long time | crafted object | Destruction of one | ago | and muscle power | liter material | | | Range: 40 meter -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * bow and | long time ago | crafted object | Destruction of arrow | | and muscle power | .5 liter material | | | Range: 150 meter -------------+------------------+------------------+---------------------
Stage 3: Internal war is mostly counter productive, and unnecessary
Weapon: Emerged: Type: Destruction: -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * chemical | before our | crafted object | Destruction of reaction | grandfathers | and chemical | 10x10x10 meter bomb | were born | knowledge | (variable more/less) | | | Range: variable -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * auto stone | centuries ago | metal and | Destruction of thrower | | chemical | .1 liter material "rifle" | | knowledge | Range: 100 meter -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * weapon gas | centuries ago | chemical | Destruction of | | knowledge | dozens of lives | | | Range: 1 kilometer -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * auto bomb | century ago | metal and | Destruction of thrower | | chemical | 10x10x10 meter "bomb canon"| ?| knowledge | Range: 50 kilometer -------------+------------------+------------------+---------------------
Stage 4: The end of internal war is a necessity for survival (war is MAD).
Weapon: Emerged: Type: Destruction: -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * nuclear | decades ago | chemical plus | Destruction of fission | | electronic | one area/large city bomb | | knowledge | | | | Range: global -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- * nuclear | decades ago | chemical plus | Destruction of fusion | | electronic | a region or more, bomb | | knowledge | potentially unlimited. | | | Range: global -------------+------------------+------------------+--------------------- ... ... ... | ... -------------+------------------+------------------+---------------------
From this theoretical perspective, humanity seems well behind in its necessary psychological adaptation. Ideally war has - and could have - ended before Stage 4 begins (as logic suggests). Continuing with war suggests that humanity has a deep desire to become a common animal again, something which is both proven and effectuated by continuing with warfare.
Defining the names: the name "animal moral code" is probably too wide, because not all animals may necessarily employ it, and because many humans do as well. A more precise definition could be ``moral code for beings living in a world where they must fight directly with their naked bodies as one of many species'', ``violent naked heterogeneous moral code''. In such circumstances, infighting, establishing domination hierarchies on the basis of the relevant parts of bodily strength for that species, will be a reason for success for the entire species. This `naked moral code' can be individualized as well: as long as domination is allowed to exist, those being dominated have at least a chance to dream of becoming the dominant specimen themselves ("the boss"). This way the `naked moral code' does not only create long term success in the species at large, but immediate meaning for all individuals, even those being subjugated or even destroyed in the process. `Everyone can dream of attaining power, and of subjugating many others.'
Because many humans subscribe to the ``naked violent moral code'', and sometimes even auto-generate an eco-system of violence in which only the most violent survive, the "human (homo sapiens) moral code" is a mix of the `naked moral code' and something which hasn't fully developed yet, and therefore is hard to define. One way to define it is as the negation of the `naked code' (naked as in non-technological). Then it is the absence of internal violence within the species.
Since natural evolution and the propagation of successful solutions doesn't stop (shouldn't stop?) after the `naked morality' has been overcome (if ever), there seems to be a grey area: competition. An reasonable answer to this may be in the two legs upon which natural evolution rests: death and popularity. In the naked animal world, both are important, and `popularity' often depends on the expected survival chances. Under the ``technical homogeneous (one species is technological) moral code'', if internal violence has been done away with, the absolute domination through technology over the rest of nature means that death is no longer a factor of life. Everyone survives, strong or weak. This leaves the `popularity' branch of evolution. Since `survival' is no longer a factor in defining how popular something is, a more general `creates happiness' factor would probably become effective. Survival itself has been a cause of happiness, so this more general `creates happiness' has already been there, but it was warped into the direction of survival.
The competition - to the degree this competition is popular itself, creates happiness - is simply carried out with an appropriate sense of the environment it is operating in. The practical result of this is, that diversity and competition under the technical moral code may be just as fierce. It does however not involve application of bodily violence and bodily domination, and restricts itself to the arena of `popularity'.
Obviously the above rules for development can in principle be applied to other ecosystems, especially because they point to a possible cause of violence. When applying the above to a theoretical technological species somewhere else in space, we can expect that species that are able to reach our planet will in all likelihood already have adapted to a technical moral code.
1. To reach Earth, one has to not only be able to travel between the planets around the home star, but to reach other stars. This means that the species would have had extremely powerful technology for a significant amount of time -- probably enough time for it to self destruct before it can reach another star.
2. When a species becomes more technological, its science will probably develop as well. Therefore it may come to similar conclusions as above, and understand the limitations of animal morality, and why it has no future.
3. When a species is able to reach other stars, it may reach other
planets around such stars. This may in theory bring it into contact
with other forms of life.
A. If the species is still aggressive, it will naturally create war, given the level of technology this will likely be extremely destructive and possibly cause extinction or throwback into the early stone-age.
B. If the species is not aggressive, it is likely to bond with other non aggressive species, creating mutual benefit. Such cooperative alliances will be constructive, whereas aggressive species will not be able to construct such alliances as effectively if at all. This means that the cooperative groups (if any) gain an ever larger technological dominance.
4. If an aggressive species reaches the stars, and is the first in the universe to do so, it is still restricted to its own galaxy. To reach other galaxies will probably be impossible at first because of the much larger distance, it would take time to develop the technology (if it is even possible). The steps known are: planet, solar-system, galaxy, galaxy-cluster, galaxy-cluster-cluster (super cluster). An aggressive species has a slower development: significant chance of self-destruction, overhead from acting aggressive, no chances on respectful inter species alliances, facing hostility from non-aggressive species and alliances of non-aggressive species on potentially any level of development (inter stellar, inter galactic, inter cluster, inter super cluster, ...). Because it can not immediately permeate all of the existing universe, the aggressive species will be overtaken sooner or later.
Conclusion: cultural productions that depict inter stellar "aliens" to be violent, are probably primarily based on a projection of the human psyche itself. Because of the depicted violence and militarism, such series seem to depict life on Earth as it would be after the extinction of humanity: a throwback to the very distant past, before technology existed. This underscored by the type of decisions made in such series: the same type of decisions that animals face in nature, ``where do I find food, how do I evade that predator, who is dangerous''.
A particular danger of evolution is stagnation for no other reason then stagnation. Once a property becomes very appealing in terms of getting children, that fact causes the property to become appealing because having it ensures the children will be appealing to those for whom the property is appealing because it is appealing to others (etc). A self reinforcing popularity, without a basis in true survival. The more a species has a conscious selection process and few hard limits, the more the species can be at risk because it is a psychological effect. This effect can also cause a species that needs to adapt to technology, to become more stuck to the old ways then would be warranted by a sober analysis of survival chances of all manner of behaviors.
The human courtship display behavior is quite amusing, for instance. It involves moving in ways that probably are meant to show that all limbs are working as they should, that the brain of the specimen has gained full control over its muscles. This would be relevant in terms of dealing with bodily violence, perhaps that is where it originated. It isn't very useful in determining the intelligence or technical capabilities of the "dancers." But to the degree it ensures people being able to have correctly moving limbs, it is definitely a plus. That only leaves the question of whether there was a significant problem with these limbs, so that there will be an useful return for all this dancing effort.
A more disturbing trend in humanity is its extreme drug usage. If it is only possible for humans to "dance" when sufficiently on drugs (typically alcohol), and if it is only possible for humans to interact pleasantly while doing drugs (typically cigarettes and alcohol), then there might be some negative effects in the long run. For one the people who don't wish to engage in this useless "dancing" behavior or doing drugs, they don't reproduce much, become therefore unattractive and are weeded from society eventually because of the "evolutionary entrapment" of humanity in drugs usage. Secondly "doing drugs" means wasted time, time that was needed to solve the problems of the world, technically and psychologically. People who use drugs waste time, hence aren't helping anymore. But not everyone is wasting its time, which has obviously lead to startling technological progress. End result: a backwards and childish species with high tech toys, recipe for disaster (extinction).
Evolutionary entrapment (hypotheses) would perhaps `normally' not be that problematic, because the degenerating sub groups would probably sooner collapse (be exposed as degenerating), its space taken over by the better adapted. But humanity is starting from nothing, from being adapted and needing to be adapted to physical violence. It is already hard enough to adapt to technology, having to deal with additional problems like drug usage has obviously put the entire process at great risk. While the world is turning into a giant waste dump, people still want to look "cool" in their car; the point being having wrestled the ownership, it isn't about the skill to build one. Breaking out of wars can be particularly dangerous right now, with a view of entrapment in violence. Wars with high civilian casualties prove that being able to physically defend yourself - something that still has a physical component to it - is not becoming obsolete.
I think there might be a window of opportunity for a species to become adapted to its technology. That window starts in a weak way with the simpler technology, then the pull to drop internal violence becomes stronger the fewer people are being killed from wild animals. The window closes when those being better adapted to technology (dedicated to peace) are consciously destroyed through some kind of entrapment process. Humanity is then continuously destroying the specimen being best adapted to technology, what future is there for humanity in that case ? From the moment weapons that can defeat any animal without any needed additional bodily characteristics (like extra strong muscles) for humans become available, all violence is backwards violence. This moment probably occurred with the invention of the machine gun: point and shoot, cheap to manufacture, requires virtually no unusual bodily adaptations to use, no animal we would otherwise fight hand and stone can hope to match it.
From the moment of the machine gun, we are in a special position: all violence is backwards, but we aren't yet capable of destroying ourselves. This special window happened roughly between the first world war and somewhere in the sixties, when sufficient atom bombs came on line for a chance on self destruction (do the math!). Now we face a curious form of entrapment: wars are being fought to prevent the spread of extremely powerful weapons (atom bombs), yet these very same wars can introduce evolutionary entrapment in violence in a species already having a hard time to adapt. If these wars become acceptable, then that seems to be also a form of entrapment in the historical sense: fighting wars to prevent wars, which makes little sense historically, but neither evolutionary (which is more important then historical). Humanity as a species seems to be degenerating, or suffering from some kind of temporary relapse, possibly induced by having lost so much time on doing drugs (hypotheses).
During the expected transition phase for a species beginning to use technology coming from a biosphere where being good in aggression (war) is vital, a certain paradox of adulthood can occur. It certainly occurs on Earth at least. When new born specimen are small, they can play with each other for fun, but they can not fight to establish their position in the gang or tribe (company, country, military, etc). Once the newborns of a non-technological species become adults, the fights will be real, the intensity, severity and intention of the fights will increase. This can result in a certain ranking for all individuals. Hence: ``behaving more openly and seriously aggressive is a sign of adulthood'' on this "level", while behaving more peacefully is a sign of childishness.
When a species becomes fully adapted to its technology, it needs to become peaceful. When new newborns grow up, they typically repeat the growth pattern of past evolution (humans do), and may well also repeat past stages of human evolution during growing up. This repetition of past behavior may continue to some degree, even when the species is otherwise adapted to technology (became peaceful). Hence: ``behaving in a dedicated peaceful way is a sign of adulthood'' on this "level," while behaving aggressively is a sign of childishness.
Both interpretations of adulthood contradict, though during upbringing they start from the same position. It is therefore probably wrong to look for solutions to young people (who repeat the past), rather one should look to old people instead. The change has to come from adult people themselves, not from children. Old people have most experience with the world, and have survived longest in it. One of the key factors of the present culture seems to be a "celebration" of youth. This is probably not a productive choice to make a change toward peace, rather it seems to be more of an attempt to shrug off any responsibility, and continue to act as spoiled children to which behavior most modern "adults" seem to have fallen victim to. It is not the children who must make the changes, it is the adults themselves, and they should have achieved something when they are older, so that they have something to offer to the upbringing of the children. The children can then work forward from a better position, and achieve yet more later. For this handing over of results, there needs to be sufficient contact.
Because children behave quite violently toward each other in play fighting for an expected violent world - they don't know better so are following their instincts - it is probably a good idea to deny them the chance to form a completely separate section of society left to its own devices. The problem is that these "devices" are inspired by old problems like chasing prey and evading and fighting with predators and hierarchy infighting; as these things have happened over many many millions of years. Just like a baby in the womb actually trains its hands, because in the distant past it immediately needed strong hands after birth. Now this is no longer needed, but the baby doesn't know, and therefore falls back on what its instinct tells it: train those hands, or face certain death. Without new certain input, what else does a child have but its instincts. The blah-blah of a teacher can never substitute real life experience, never. The problem is that words are without meaning unless attached to actual experience. Words ultimately just re-arrange past experiences, and therefore what is said is limited to what the children already are capable of understanding.
Cooking children up with themselves is also somewhat unusual compared to what other species do, to have children basically grow up in large groups without contact with "normally" behaving adults. Children in modern culture are cooked up in buildings with a few adults to keep order. No wonder they receive little in the way of results and daily examples of adults who have made some change toward peace and solidarity in their lives, examples to absorb and to learn from. That is why children "are cruel." By the time these children are of age to go to work, they are basically starting from a much worse position then would have been necessary using a different social organizational setup. Consequently, results for society toward peace from this type of upbringing has to be almost non existent. What is developed isn't absorbed by the youth, they always have to start with almost nothing. What adults and old people have developed goes mostly with them to their graves, lost to the culture, the most precious thing it currently needs (peace and solidarity).
One of the problems with this is, that there are so few people who actually know what they are doing and why. Children will immediately know that, and basically not take the "adults" seriously, and right they would be. So, the problem lies still with the adults: to come to know what one is doing and why exactly, so that children would take them seriously and not laugh them away. That is a big problem, since most adults are basically children, without clue as to reality of their world, what they want, are, do, the limits etc etc. Pretty much everyone appears to be lost. Children who experience casual and continues contact with normally behaving adults therefore know much more about their society in a much more real way. When they have grown up, they will probably in turn be taken more seriously.
Another problem is people working in businesses are essentially owned slaves who must obey their masters bidding. Children will immediately recognize the submissive position of many, and the dominant position of others, and hence extrapolate that this is a world based on violence, intimidation, scheming, gossip, power politics and the like. No self-respecting adult would accept a smaller cut from a group effort, unless the society is ultimately violence based, something instinctively hardwired into every human being. From this there could be negative inspiration. But on average it is the adults who are the better example then other children. To see the seemingly less harmful play of children compared to adult wars as a turn to peace is a mistake, the children now waging wars were once children like any other. Children can only be a hope for the future once the adults take their responsibilities, and impress that continuesly on their children.
To a degree it is possible that the more intelligent people who stand to profit from a lack of progress toward peace and solidarity (mostly capitalists and rich people), will want to keep the culture as it is, since it keeps the level of animosity and despair high, which makes alternatives to their rule harder or even impossible.