In case you hadn’t noticed before, the pandemic has reminded us that human beings can be bad for each other.
By Thom Hawkins
Why? Our human species evolved as both prey and predator in an environment dominated by species that wanted to eat us. We were delectable, easy meals, defenseless longer than any other species because we took longer to reach maturity, helpless and dependent on authority figures during our developmental years. We have an innate longing for security. Little wonder, then, that since we evolved from our ape ancestors, we have gravitated toward authoritarian social/economic structures similar to feudalism and capitalism; we just want to be protected.
Recent research explains that while there have always been authoritarian groups, there also have always been tribes that function cooperatively without an authoritarian structure. Despite our vulnerability to existential threats, we have been able to develop some highly effective egalitarian cultures that still exist in pockets today.
Why have we done that? Why and how did we gain the emotional maturity to decide that collectively we can provide better protection than a centralized system of power and control? Why does collectivism not dominate? Why is democracy failing once again?
I suspect democracy’s failure has something to do with population expansion and overshoot. There is no historical precedent for the number of people currently crowding our exploited planet. Humans are exceeding carrying capacity because too many of us are over-indulged and shielded from the consequences, even now that we have nowhere left to go. We want someone to clean up our mess and make us do the right thing.
Nature is finished with us. Yet, we continue to live by the erroneous assumption that autocrats, plutocrats and technocrats will save us from our self-centered extravagance. They can’t even save themselves.
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