This is the full text of the older Descent of Man Revisited, the companion volume for Last and First Men
The context of the ‘neo-communist’ initiative of Last and First Men is that of a paradigm shift on the subject of evolution: a critique of darwinism with a new perspective on the evolution of man.
It is very hard for the old left to move beyond darwinism, but I think the shift will happen suddenly and the many associated groups should be ready: the secondary volumes beyond WHEE are Last and First Men, and Descent of Man Revisited (with a third to complete a trilogy) and these contain ample summaries of the new approach to evolution: the key issue is to stay short of a full theory of evolution: these are destined to fail for some time to come. Instead we look at world history in order to take a look at one of the few non-random patterns open to close study. From these we can reconstruct what a theory of evolution should look like, that is with a basic distinction of levels macro and micro. This allows a very simple model of ‘evolution’ in world history, i.e. the ‘evolution of civilizations’. This approach allows us to offer the bare elements of an alternative to darwinism. Note the darwinism has NEVER been proven in full detail with close observation. Thus to propose our outline of a different type of ‘theory’, realized fully or not, is EQUALLY RIGOROUS to the darwinian attempt. HOW?? if no rigorous theories exist at all, ours is easily as rigorous. But beyond this humor lies the reality that a two level theory of our type is easily shown to be an equal or better match to the rough set of facts in deep time.
The failure scenario: The public will resist change and reject the left if it moves beyond darwinism. Then the left will compromise to stop the stampede away from darwin critics, then the paradigm shift will happen and the left will be charged with cowardice and outdated views!
The left can use this ‘evolutionary framework’ to create a larger scale world history with all the needed elements beyond economic history (and theory): civilizations wholesale, chronicles from the Neolithic to the present, the emergence of world religions, the Axial Age, the rise of modernity, the cycle pattern of Occidental history: transition (Axial Age), onset of epoch, decline and medievalism, and the onset of the following epoch, the modern transition.
This approach is a handy guide to modernity, to the issue of revolution, and in general the rise of science, religion, art, philosophy, politics, etc…The core of historical materialism is too reductionist and our larger perspective is far more useful, although it is easy to recast ‘historical materialism’ as the study of economic systems since the Neolithic, and the relations of ideology and class. Thus our perspective can more or less subsume/sublate the older approaches.
We need a very broad humanistic world history that can collate insights along all the veins of civilization/civilizations.