When you have billions of dollars, you have the power to define ‘human evolution’. Close inspection of the most of the international corporations helps us to see that their tax evasions and philanthropic deceit are mere strategies to extend their exploits. Income inequality and oppressive state mechanisms forces anti-establishment factions to mobilise, writes Anujit Saha
ALMOST two centuries ago, Darwin and Wallace came up with a theory to explain the evolutionary trends in the organism and its population. With little idea of genes or chromosomes, the theory stated that the features best suited for survival and procreation are the ones that remain in the gene pool, while the others are slowly wiped out.
Back then, this idea was a breakthrough. It helped answer questions like why there is not unlimited variation within a species, or why the total population seems to remain constant throughout the years.
After this theory came out, years of work into genetics and cellular chemistry helped us find out much more about our hereditary features and the factors that affect our characteristics. However, the general mass seems to stick to the original wording and interpretation. Individuals are inherently attracted to that one idea that can help them preserve their bloodline. They look into evolution as a tool that can help them exist in this word, and more importantly to survive. In that case, we often find it more convenient to stick to the wording of two men from the 19th century, defining our world as one of ‘struggle for existence’ and ‘intense competition’.
Is there any external harm for such an interpretation? Absolutely. We currently operate in what I like to call proxy democracies — a simulation where our voices and votes result to nothing. Every change that can be brought to this world has to be fought against the interests of lobbyists and establishments. The sustainable development goals might be something that inspired people. It made marginalised groups and impoverished people feel that a global platform was taking their problems into account.
But where is our reduction in gap between incomes? Where are the policies that can help to reduce our carbon footprint? Where is the gender equality in my country with more than a 1500 rapes last year alone? It is easy to conclude that the SDGs are set of lucrative goals — tokenistic policies that the liberal West and the major nations promise to make up for all the exploitation and damage they have created in the international arena.
But maybe there are too many nuances in the state governments. What about the private sector? What about the people who do not want a government because they think they can best handle the economy? The question arises, are establishments and monopolies so evil? Do not they make advertisements, campaigns and charity events where they pledge to do work for the betterment of humanity? Did not Mark Zuckerberg pledge 99 per cent of his wealth to philanthropic causes? Do the wealthy not pay their fair share of corporate and estate taxes?
Close inspection of the most of these corporations helps you see past their charades. Federal tax evasions and philanthropic deceit are mere strategies to further their exploits for the future.
The most recent unmasking happened for the aviation company Boeing. Their new model Boeing 737 MAX has cost 346 lives within the first year of its launch. Investigations revealed transcripts of the corporation and agencies in charge of judging fitness for flying. The company catalysed the process of licensing, as it could not wait till a new plane flied and brought those millions of dollars back home.
They did not care to go through trials and testing. They did not have to. When you have billions, you have the power to define ‘human evolution’. They have the power to tweak the meaning of ‘fittest’. To them it means survival in the stock market. It means staying relevant in the aviation market, even if it comes at the cost of the people who help them survive in the first place — the customers.
This is where further clarification of the initial hypothesis can help. The concept of evolution stated that selective pressures acted on a manner that it helped bring out the most effective adaptive features within organisms. The observations were of organisms in an unregulated ecosystem. The existence of predators and lack of habitat and food was what shaped the race for survival. It helped a species adopt traits that helped them co-operate rather within themselves to maintain the natural balance.
The ecological niche stays functional only when the system of food chain and nutrients recycling continues. Hence the adaptations were strategies for species to be able to survive, procreate and exist as a herd community. It was a system of defense rather than the aggressive notion that people ought to relate with the idea of ‘evolution’.
Human evolution was thought to be of similar defensive measures from diseases, pathogens and climate. The prey and predator theory was not thought to be very relevant to us. And yet, we have well defined our human race into two distinct groups — the oppressor and the oppressed. Those groups are not so far away from the dynamics that prey and predator follow. Hence somehow we managed to reverse our evolutionary trends and return to a time where our struggle for survival has manifested to be our actual struggle.
Power gives people the ability to decide who survives and who does not. Who gets to be better off and who should be persecuted. The survival for the wealthiest substitutes the previous notions of co-operation. Adding the capitalistic intent to the table, they can easily argue it is within the realms of human nature and society to scramble for wealth.
The same intent urges Coca Cola to shoot down trade unionists in Latin America. It motivates Facebook to allow uncensored political advertisements. The intent makes it okay for detergent to be found in the biggest brand of milk in Bangladesh. It makes it okay for the nation of Congo to be destabilised by foreign powers for the valuable silicon it bears. It makes corporations coming up with life-saving medicines feel okay with charging dying patients fortunes. As consumers, we have accepted the dynamics hoping that someday we get to be at the other side of the table.
The rise of populism strikes another contradiction to the initial hypothesis. To conservatives, ‘survival for the fittest’ boils down to ‘survival of the few’. They are willing to retract years of human progression of liberalism and integration for the prospect of championing convenient ideologies. Strict border controls, ethnic cleansing, controversial citizenship acts have all acted as the adaptive tool for regimes to survive and exploit. What selective pressures cause such drastic diversions?
Again, an external prey comes into the image. Worldwide neo-liberalism has popularised the notion of warfare and diplomatic tensions. The Iran-Iraq war turned previously secular nations into war mongering destabilised nations. The powerful Afghanistan was broken down into a site for proxy war, and the infiltration resulted in the mutation of the young minds to form Taliban. The whole of Middle East was destabilised after the Arab Spring where the Obama regime decided that dictators had to be removed.
All these interventions left behind a scarring message to the world. As long as it benefited the predators, it did not matter how many civilian lives were lost or how many men and women in uniform paid the price.
A world cannot exist where radically different interpretations for survival are present within divided groups. There is a reason why the hundred year old Soviet Revolution still resonates with the idealists, philosophers and altruists of today. A revolution that was meant to unify the workers also aims of unify what survival looks like. It tries to make the different interpretations compatible, and more importantly co-operative.
When the lines of division that we have created are blurred, we can revert ourselves to what evolution actually is. It is a philosophical belief as much as it is empirical science. It is a theory that should have been adapted for the co-operative norms of the society. It should have championed the people and their ability to persevere through hardships. Aggression and competition was not meant to be the doctrines that are inseparable from my life.
I was not meant to be enrolled in a privatised education system where every commodity is offered other than education. I was meant to be part of a medical system where doctors prefer to serve more time in private clinics than they do in their state hospitals just so that they can charge more fees. The demonstrations for the jute workers last month should not have needed lives of workers from hunger strikes to come to negotiations with the state.
I try my best to mobilise, to practice individualism and to boycott consumerist practices. It is shocking how long it takes for the general mass to realise the proxy world built around them. Eventually they do. The Cubans did, the Soviets did and recently the Iranians are joining. The beauty of evolution is that a trait that can save us in a future might be something that is currently practiced by a small community. When the time is right, certain values will be exponentially adopted by the people to ensure their survival.
Such interpretations inspire anti-establishment factions, give our niche communities hope and motivate us to mobilise. It promises us a future to look forward — one where the proletariats can free themselves from ‘the struggle for survival’.
But for now I remain a prey, we all are.
Anujit Saha is a writer who wants to work for the Jacobin someday
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Mindspeak