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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Our Egalitarian Eden

May 31st, 2014 · No Comments

https://portside.org/2014-05-30/our-egalitarian-eden

These discussions of inequality and evolution, as we have pointed out over and over again here, are based on a misleading definition of evolution. They are assuming that the data is to be interpreted in Darwinian terms, and that ‘evolution’ generates, debate, debate, (in)equality.
But the real issue is the contrast of macro and micro evolution, as portrayed in my World History and The Eonic Effect. Read that book, to get a sense of how a ‘macro’ factor is at work in world history. Its relation to the Neolithic lacks the full evidence, but we can at least offer the caution that the debates as current won’t sort out any such distinction, and I admit it is hard. The macro model I depict gives us a warning to be wary of analyzing historical sequences if your data is not able to reach the centuries level, at a bare minimum, and the decade level it at all possible. Looking at this discussion we see some data coming into existence at least, but it is still at the millennium level. Still the discussion is starting to get a little better.

But consider the birth of democracy in ancient Greece. Solon, around 600 BCE, indicates the inklings of something moving toward equalization in the Greek Archaic with its multiple experiments in republican city states (and all sorts of other things, viz. the Spartan weirdness). Then one of those a century later becomes a democracy just before 500BCE. Athens. It flowers with a spectacular phase of real public participatory democracy (with the factor of slavery in the background still) and the word itself comes into existence, along with the idea of political or other freedom, eleutheria. By the end of the fifth century it has undergone a crisis, and its imperialist outreach in the spectacular success of its economy has begun to erode the brilliant invention. It persists into the fourth century in shell form, and then the era of Alexander arrives. It’s over.

So here we see a direct example of data at the millennium level starting to focus to the century level, and in the drama of democracy we see a focus emerging to the decades level. We can see roughly the decade level fact basis for Athens in the fourth century.

Now we can see why this example warns us to be careful. There is no data set in Neolithic of this kind. And we don’t have chronicles, but inferences from artifacts. Writing has not been invented. So we should be wary.

Return to the first millennium BCE. We can see overall the dominance of non-democratic forms. But, and only because written records have come into existence, at the decades level barely, we can see that a complete experiment in democracy comes into existence and then passes away in two plus centuries. Now imagine we didn’t have any written records, as in the Neolithic. We would never know that democracy had come into existence and then disappeared soon there after, not to be reborn until modern times.
If you study WHEE carefully there is a further argument, as to the ‘macro’ effect in the Greek Axial Archaic, in which this experiment appears: so the appearance of democracy is not at random! A severe caution to Darwinian thinking.
This example is a warning that we cannot safely judge archaeological data to produce statements about issues like equality/inequality.

And, furthermore, we can see that the issue of inequality/equality is itself the crux of macro action in world history. If that is the case we can suspect that inequality might well arise via micro action, while the macro action has a specific equalization process built in. So we must suspect that macroevolutionary movements toward equalization are a factor in the overall emergence of civilization. That is incomprehensible to Darwinian archaeologists. But the data is hard to avoid, in the recent periods, leaving us to be wary of what we have missed in the earlier.

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