Last and First Men is an aggressive effort, as here on this blog, to change the perspective of the left on Darwinism. The sorry confusion of the marxist world on Darwin has had a near age-period of compliance with this scientism, but now a pressing need has emerged for the transition to a new paradigm. A partial realization of the confusion has already emerged in the world of the critics of sociobiology, Science for the People, etc, in the critiques of E.O. Wilson, but that initiative has failed because it tried to shift the problem to figures such as Spencer, while the theory of Darwin was left alone.
It should have long since occurred to leftists to leave the old paradigm, especially since Marx, before the Darwinian avalanche overtook marxism, saw the problem in a single glance, and saw that the core of the problem was ‘natural selection’. It is the theory of Darwin, not just the strange platitudes of Spencer (or Malthus), that is confusing the left, and making its critique of ideology a blunted instrument given its kowtow to the Darwinian complot, always and forever a crypto-Social Darwinist stealth paradigm for the Whiggish sorts like Darwin, soon the Gilded Age sorts of the era of the tycoons, the eugenicists, and finally the apostles of the Blond Beast, the nazis, leaving aside the debate over Darwin an Hitler. It is clear that Darwinism influenced a host of social philosophies in its wake, including that of nazism (to do an endrun around the ‘Darwin to Hitler’ debate).
The phrase ‘last and first men’ is developed into a clear context for discussing the once and future evolution of man, and it is essential to de-Darwinize that discussion. First, the question of natural selection is that of a theory too underpowered to explain human evolution (or any other, we suspect) and contains a dangerous implication that the winners in class struggle are the elites, the champions of the left, the workers, taken as the losers in the survival of the fittest sweepstakes. Darwinism blinds us to the way complex genomic properties are distributed across subset populations (take musical talent): no competitive regime could assemble those dispersed properties. Only species level operations (something we can’t even imagine) would be required. (Genetic study may clarify the issues, of course).
The left denies believing this, even as they toss in the towel in their Darwinian rectitude. That was the sniggering aside of the fat cats at the ‘Breakfast at Delmonicos’, Carnegie’s ex cathedra locale for the popery of the Gilded Age, thinking themselves the champs in the fitness sweepstakes, and those poor workers the ‘losers’.
It is hard for those who get stuck in Darwinism to escape its hold, even though its proponents are too often clear ideologists of market ideology. Dawkins is a figment of the neo-liberal age despite a few liberal disguises to confuse the faithful, and the debates over altruism, kin and group selection, and the evolution of ethics should have long ago alerted the marxist left to the dangers of endorsing the cleverest and best disguised of the ideologies of the market. Acquiescend
So a new left and neo-communist post-marxism needs a rationale for postdarwinism and I think Last and First Men provides it, or else gives a summary of the extended treatment in WHEE and DMR (world history and the eonic effect, and descent of man revisited….)
The left has a set of useful tools on the question of evolution in the two books cited (online sites, history-and-evolution.com and descentofmanrevisited.com) that can show, not the real ‘theory’ of evolution, but a study of world history which strongly suggests that darwinian evolution could never have been a precedent phase to the complex ‘macro/evolution’ we see in world history. We suspect this historical phenomenon contains the key, or one key to the mystery of earlier evolution. It is not necessary to propose new dogmas as propaganda here: a refreshing stance of agnosticism could help to repair the left’s credibility after its ridiculous and demeaning toomfoolery support of the worst Social Darwinist rubbish of the ‘scientific age’, Darwin’s theory, one he cribbed from Wallace, who very soon moved on from his first positions.
Acquiescence in Darwinism is dangerous. There is a real danger that the conservative forces of economy will come to dominate the science of evolution and the future (abortive) evolution of man (if they don’t do so already), armed with the Darwinian theory supported even on the left (wince!) and move to renewed genocidal experiiments on a class basis. The world of capital wishes to control the genetics of the worker to tune him to its designs. The left stands with dull darwinian conformity on the sidelines unable, in theory, to challenge this dangerous emerging ambition to remake the working class as a genetic subclass.
The key to blocking these psycopaths is for the general public and the left to protest the fallacies of darwinism with a clear understanding that the scenarios of species genocide in earlier evolution are false. The onset of homo erectus, thence neanderthals, and homo sapiens are already too complexified by a universe of research for such a simplistic horror to prevail, and yet it has prevailed and the Darwinian idiocy is robust and growing a whole slew of false theoretical myths in the field of evolutionary psychology. The issues of ethics, religion, consciousness, and language are failures of this darwinian nonsense, but the academic bastions are still promote this odd concoctions as the derivations of a sound paradigm.
The issue for a postdarwnian left is fairly simple: we don’t understand human evolution, and all of our efforts so far have failed to deal with the question properly. So what I recommend is that the ‘last and first men’, taking off from Nietzschean fancies left behind in the dust, as a theme, be the core of a postdarwinian ‘evolutionary’ holding area or social construct, under the aegis of a postcapitalist ‘commune’ taken as the ‘evolutionary’ staging area for the species homo species to study its once and future evolution. That evolution requires a long study indeed, and we have to suspect that ‘evolution’ is a Gaian level operation, and a real science of evolution, in the context of guardians on the (ultra far) left, an operation at Star Trek level or beyond: an unfolding program of operations over tens of thousands of years, able to mimic the phenomenology of the ‘eonic’ or ‘macro’ effect: a superadvanced technology rendered out of the observation so directed or teleological evolution applied to natural populations.
That is not just hard, but superhard, so the ‘commune’ of the first, once the last, men would need to consider social operations on the level of the macroevolutonary sequences we suspect were the enablers of the earliest human evolution.
To get a sense of the nature of the difficulties, and these at the foothills of the question, by considering a machine that can render aesthetic judgments. The macro effect shows clear evidence of the dynamics of history intersecting with aesthetic issues. How do we deal with that? Kant clearly sense the issue, by the way, and had a series of prophetic intimations of the relationship of teleology and aesthetics. That is mentioned only as one of the real ‘hard’ problems, large in number, that require, and prefigure, future sciences unknown to us. Programming a machine to produce art is a very reductionist version of the larger idea (and may corrupt its core meaning), and this in turn is a component of directed cultural evolution such as we see in world history, e.g. in the data of the Axial Age. More generally the issues of human consciousness, which defy current darwinian science, require a near sci-fi apotheosis of star trek science, shall we muse, and this requires a stable civilization as a commune beyond the distorting influences of the current primitive market madness.
In any case, I have few hopes, at first, that the old left will see the problems with Darwinism, but the time is approaching for a new “Ultra Far Left’ that can mediate the now conservatized ‘old left’. The conservative factions have actually stolen a march on the left here with their critiques of darwinism, and there is no excuse for the old marxist darwinists to remain defenders of darwinian ideology. Those conservatives raise the issue of design, and the alliance of the left, in fact the source, of the New Atheism, shows the way darwinism is the foundational propaganda for a secular atheist cult, now slowly turning toward the right. The issue of Intelligent Design is the problem its secularist defenders have taken as the arch heresy, but the reality is that both sides of the evolution debate have failed to deal with the enigma in question. The issue of design is not the property of conservative Christians. Marxists have themselves considered the ‘design’ of history in the ‘great leap to freedom’ core ideologies. The issue of design is present in all discussions of biochemical processes and machines. Since the design faction and the darwinist factions have failed to solve the problem of design, the debates are mostly hot air. The designists have obscured the issue with theology, without that, its confusions wane, but the resolution is not darwinism.
The question of the evolutionary commune resembles not only sociological questions, but religious ones, after the fashion of the ‘commune of the boddhissatwas’ in buddhism. This Mahayanist legacy has severe problems, but it represents one of the first ‘species level’ organizations scaled to not just decades and centuries, but the larger eras or eons of macroevolution. The future left will have to juggle all these issues, evolution, science, sociology, religion, and the development of consciousness. The first step is sufficient confidence to take a first step beyond the pseudo-science of darwinism to restore the dignity of the left, after the ideological trick played on them in the wake of Darwin and in the period of the Second Internationale, which bite on the hook of evolutionary/economic ideology.