‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 2 The Threat of Terminal Alienation from Science’s Denial
Chapter 2:9 Social Darwinism
Prior to the development of science and its evasive offerings, humans had already found a way to avoid the condemning truths of a cooperative, all-loving, innocent past and of a consciousness-induced ‘fall from grace’, which was to simply assert that nature is brutally competitive and aggressive—‘red in tooth and claw’, as Tennyson put it (In Memoriam, 1850)—and that’s why we are. Basically, we looked around and saw that animals always appear to be fighting and competing with each other and instead of acknowledging that our instinctive orientation is to be cooperative and all-loving, we said that our instincts are similarly ruthlessly competitive and aggressive. We said that we have brutal, savage animal instincts that our conscious mind has to somehow try to control. As was mentioned in par. 153, it was an absolutely brilliant excuse, because instead of our instincts being all-loving and thus unbearably condemning of our present non-loving state, they were made out to be vicious and brutal; and, instead of our conscious mind being the villain, the cause of our corruption, the insecurity of which made us repress our instinctive self or soul or psyche and become psychotic, it was made out to be the blameless, psychosis-free mediating ‘hero’ that had to manage those supposed vicious instincts within us! It was all a terrible reverse-of-the-truth lie, but a hugely relieving one for humans seeking relief from the human condition.
What happened when Charles Darwin presented his idea of natural selection in his momentous book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was that the excuse that claimed we have ‘savage’, ‘barbaric’, ‘backward’, ‘brutish’, ‘bestial’, ‘primitive’ animal instincts within us was supposedly given a biological basis through the misrepresentation of natural selection as a ‘survival of the fittest’ process. Natural selection is the process by which some members of a population reproduce more than others in a given environment, and, most significantly, in the first edition of The Origin of Species Darwin left it undecided as to whether those individuals that reproduced more could be viewed as winners, as being ‘fitter’. However, in later editions Darwin’s associates, Herbert Spencer and Alfred Russel Wallace, persuaded him to substitute the term ‘natural selection’ with the term ‘survival of the fittest’ (Letter from Wallace to Darwin, 2 Jul. 1866; The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Vol.14, p.227 of 706). While Darwin’s friend and staunch defender, the biologist Thomas Huxley described the term ‘survival of the fittest’ as an ‘unlucky substitution’ (1890; Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley Vol.3, ed. Leonard Huxley, 1903, ch. 3.7), from the point of view of humanity needing to contrive an excuse for its divisive selfish, competitive and aggressive behaviour it was a lucky substitution because it reinforced the dishonest but human-condition-relieving argument that our instincts are competitive and selfish and that we, in the sense of ‘we’ being our conscious thinking self, are blameless. (I should mention that later in chapter 4 in par. 358 it will be explained that Darwin’s original position, where he left it undecided as to whether those who reproduced more are ‘fitter’, was right because being unconditionally selfless, where you give your life to help others and don’t seek to reproduce more, can be a biologically meaningful—‘fitter’—outcome.) How much we have adopted the false ‘savage instincts’ excuse is apparent in how our conversations are saturated with comments like: ‘We are pre-programmed to try to dominate others and be a winner in the battle of life’; and ‘Our preoccupation with sexual conquest is due to our primal instinct to sow our seeds’; and ‘Men behave abominably because their bodies are flooded with must-reproduce-their-genes-promoting testosterone’; and ‘We want a big house because we are innately territorial’; and ‘Fighting and war is just our deeply-rooted combative animal nature expressing itself’; and ‘Religions are merely our survival-driven group mentality expressing itself’; and the most common comment of all that ‘It’s just human nature to be selfish’.