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Peak Culture And De-Evolution

Politics / Social Issues Aug 07, 2013 - 11:15 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Nadeem Walayat's thought-provoking article with this title, underlines that even using a criterium as basic as cranial volume and therefore brain weight humans may have lost about 150 cc of brain capacity, about 10% of the current homo sapiens sapiens average, in the last 10 000 years. To be sure, intracranial folding, which is a supreme human trait with negative tradeoffs on visual and aural acuity may well have compensated that, concerning our basic 'mechanical aptitude' to think.

This was a change that took about 10 000 years to complete.

As he says this key period of 10k years before present:  “coincides with hunter gathering giving way to farming and settlement”. This was above all a cultural revolution, culture being defined both as physical and intellectual. Also called the agricultural revolution, it comprised 'hard culture' technology change – tools, handcrafts and plant domestication following after animal domestication -  as well as 'soft culture' socially-impressed behavior change, to enable previous hunter-gatherers to live year-round in fixed settlements. The 'soft culture' revolution was certainly large. Various authors and researchers credit the adaptation to a fixed-settlement lifestyle and the growth of population as the two main drivers of the revolution Mankind operated in that critical period of about 11k – 9k years before present.

Like Nadeem Walayat also says, today's society of year 2013 in developed OECD countries like the US, UK, France, Japan, Germany or Italy now has a Welfare Benefits Culture. What he did not say is that benefits culture – like any kind of soft culture – can evolve, regress, mutate or disappear almost overnight. It can even be argued that Western society, simply because it has such a shriveled or downsized social culture, and such a vast technology culture, can change faster than any other.

The timescale for even small-scale physical and biological evolution among higher animals, as we know, is rarely less than 10k – 50k years. The timescale for culture change is instantaneous, at its shortest. The difference is extreme. Surprisingly, this central fact seems unknown to elite deciders, opinion manipulators, and “global governors”.

Like we also know human beings are a very special case, unrelated to other species in so many ways, and for humans much more than animals, cultural and physiological evolution can interact and self-reinforce. The food regime and culture changes of human beings that Nadeem Walayat mentions, since the Industrial Revolution only 200 years ago, are thought to be a major cause of human beings becoming larger, heavier, more-rounded, with ever-decreasing body, facial and head hair, slightly shorter arms, legs, and smaller hands. These are, very interestingly, traits that type for Global Cooling not a warming. This is an ecological principle concerning the size and body typology of a species as its populations move towards colder regions and the Poles, called Bergmann's principle or rule after the 19th century German biologist Carl Bergmann.

Apart from unbiased science and the facts of climate change history, human evolution may also be telling us Global Warming is a tragic and pathetic hoax!

My argument is that culture is recursive. This can be defined even in the most 'austere' and scientific manner as in mathematical logic and computer science, and at its most fundamental means defining an object, system or process by, and in terms of itself. Merriam-Webster defines recursive as  relating to or constituting a procedure that can repeat itself indefinitely. Recursive action can be tautologous or self-justifying, for example setting up rules in society that simply by endlessly repeating themselves, define the processes concerned.

Obviously, the origins of a recursive process in computing can have no problem being identified, even protected by intellectual copyright, but origins of culture – and origins of culture change – are very different and give way to multiple interpretations, of ten political and therefore cultural. Certainly for more than a century, social scientists have disputed the definitions and causes of “culture change”. One point of agreement among archeologists, paleoscientists and others is that cultural changes are not only driven by biology or the strict adaptation to environmental variables which change, but by a complex web of social, perceptional, environmental, and biological factors.

In other words there is no prima facie need for a culture, including what we can call a “mass culture” to be well-adapted, sustainable, or in any way “directional”, that is moving towards higher states better satisfying and serving real (rather than perceived) social needs.  Why this is so can be called the “cuckoo nest principle” or “rotten apple principle”.  Recursive action as a mathematical and computer science process lends itself to reinforcing and supporting processes, called positive feedback loops and mechanisms. In society and culture these are very powerful - even if they are usually treated as 'deus ex machina' that is of claimed unknown or unknowable origins. Mass popular societal response to, and anticipation of culture change is therefore brought about by what we can call “mummery”, to use a Medieval European term. Millenarian cults, as in Melanesian societies is another term which could be used. In almost every case, the origins of the culture change are treated as mystical, mysterious but almost always beneficial, even a struggle between Good and Evil.  The growth of the Global Warming Crisis movement could be used as a contemporary example 

As Nadeem Walayat mentioned in his article, organized religion exists to provide causality and epistemology for fragile-minded, timid and lazy-minded human beings, million of of them, who still in year 2013 prefer to imagine God created Man in his own image – with or without the head hair, the body fat and shorter or longer arms! At the same time, certainly in Western society and modernizing societies of Asia, accounting for well over 85% of world economic output, the role of technological culture, rather than immaterial social culture is extremely high.

Western society since the Industrial Revolution has sealed a Promethean bargain where technological culture evolves to the point that Raymond Kurzweil and others can hail the “near-term man-machine hybrid able to reproduce” and the supposedly logical decision to make human beings fully extinct. This may be the picture in the Ivory Towers, but on the ground in today's mass societies – especially the culturally degenerate or culturally derelict Western societies - mass culture exhibits the sad spectacle of ten of millions of Benefit Zombies. This non-class has no need of even the frills of literacy, shown by plummeting real rates of educational achievement – not the fancy scores produced by the Welfare State, to justify itself. Internet aids and facilitates the constantly declining interest in education.

Sometimes called “couched potatoes” or “Jack and Jill Sixpack”, or “off the wall and out to lunch” the main point is that a New Class has been created, which has no cultural role in society. The Benefit Zombies suck in a “vital minimum” of cheap mass-produced foods, maintain themselves alive, and reproduce although at a declining rate. Where immigrants in large numbers flock to join the Benefit Zombies, basically in order to eat, they become zombies themselves within at most one generation. Believing the New Class has any survival value, let alone a contributing role to play in society, is simple hypocrisy.

The non-survival value or de-evolutionary nature of this New Class in the degenerate Western societies can be shown, precisely, by the immigrant segment. Any return to their countries of origin becomes almost impossible – and is even firmly and publicly rejected by authorities in their home countries – because these former immigrants, becoming Benefit Zombies are no longer fit for any society, anywhere. What has been created is a huge and dangerous mass of Misfits. Why this happened can be traced to the recursive processes of culture change.

The linkage with the economy is very, very strong. The small group of late-18th century thinkers and advisers to royalty and governments, despite their group tendency of charlatanism, who created the concepts of the Liberal Economy, society and culture were already aware of culture change processes, if only summarily and vaguely. Taking the inventor of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, this thinker believed that a mass society could be organized and run with two-only prods or stimuli: Pleasure and Pain. No other goal or need (or timewasting) is involved, when it concerns the toolkit for running the Mass Society. Bentham of course added frills to his pet theory, to make it more appetizing, saying that Collective Pleasure outstrips the individual kind, for example football matches instead of a day's gardening.

Increasing Collective Pleasure needs Economic Growth.

In fact the twain do meet. Benefits Culture and its horde of zombies at least need their sugar-and-grease victory food. Producing this victory food in vast quantities needs economic growth. Consequently the existing Growth Economy-Mass Culture paradigm cannot be replaced, except by magical, mysterious or thaumaturgical events and processes

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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