Sunday, April 11, 2010

the driving force

Pink Floyd One of These Days - 2001 A Space Odyssey

The Olduvai hominids ate well and rolled around with their women at night. Certainly these women bore healthy children. At least some of these children learned from their parents to make and use the tools. And these hominids must have shared not only their food but their hunting plans. Those who remembered the plans and performed their jobs as planned probably continued to eat well. Those who planned and shared had children who ate well. The Olduvai probably passed their evolutionary examinations, leaving more children than other, less socially coordinated bands of man-apes.

Modern civilization is an extension of dexterity and animal intelligence which developed in our ape ancestors. The ice imposed socialization of early people was a harsh and unrelenting process. From crafting and sharing natural objects to hunting and donning the furs of cave bears and mountain cats, people have learned to outsmart large, threatening mammals. Much of the cohesiveness of the clan, the running chases of great elephantine beasts across the primeval plain have been preserved in modern cultures. Metamorphosing, these highly successful survival strategies have modern corollaries in team sports and war. In football, the hunt seems reduced to the symbolic act of groups of men chasing an object made of animal hide. The ball is hurled through the air, a symbolic spear making its mark. So too, the tribal activity of war has not diminished but expanded. Our jabbering, gesturing ancestors hunted major species of large mammals to extinction. Today the momentum of big-game hunting has pushed our species to the brink of self-extinction. As William Irwin Thompson writes,
"The technologist can turn upon traditional humanity to say: We are the highest, the most advanced, you are simply the sloughed off remains of an old animal nature For these people the arms race is neither a necessary evil nor a peculiar pathology; it is the driving force of human evolution itself."
Actually, human evolution, like all evolution, had both aspects, sharing and slaughtering, competition and cooperation. Microcosmos - Egocentric Man - Lynn Margulis.