Are we creating an Elitist Society?
We are today experiencing a time when those with the greatest wealth and privilege are accelerating towards an isolated elitism, while those who are in poverty are being pushed ever further into isolation and ideological neglect. The danger is that if this continues to the degree that we see today, this separation between those who have everything and those who have nothing may become reinforced by the natural principle of selection. After awhile nature will reinforce the cultural axiology, the values contained within a given society with what may be a genetic predisposition. At least we should pay some attention to the possibility if we are to keep democracy vital and meaningful for posterity.
In the past we have all heard of the so called science of Eugenics. Simply put, it is the art of breeding a superior human specimen. The basic idea of breeding certain desirable qualities in any organism is simple enough, take two animals with desirable attributes, mate them, and their progeny will have those qualities, and a new better breed will evolve. At least the idea is simple, though in practice it may not work out that way exactly.
Still it’s a simple idea with a very long human history. We have applied this principle to just about everything and anything we have been able to breed, including but not limited to cats, dogs, sheep, plants, cattle and even human beings. The results have at times been beneficial, at times there were the proverbial bugs to deal with. The less than aspired to results of our attempts to engineer a new breed for a given purpose. Yet, the truth is, as we have all been made aware of through Darwin’s monumental work, nature herself is the real breeder, and breeder par excellence. She breeds what she needs for the purpose of perpetuating a more enduring life form. However, nature is not limited to the wild as we often tend to believe. Nature is everywhere, even in each of us. Her laws don’t stop at our cities’ gates. They are indeed the animating principle behind all our “man-made reality”. She is the queen from whose fundamental order we can never escape.
The fact is that breeding takes place in our own human world. We live by her laws, whether we like it, or not. In effect our culture breeds what it needs to perpetuate its own modus operandi. Our civilizations are in part due to our breeding for as in “Wild” nature, if we must distinguish between human and natural, our cultures breed according to what we come to value as desirable qualities. Natural laws, we should say again, don’t stop at the city gates; they are the fundamental force behind all human society.
Individual Freedom of Choice
In the past it has been often suggested that we can systematically choose our mates in order to better the human stock. But of course most of the time our conscious efforts create buggy people. As is the case with “pure bred” dogs or cats. There is a price to be paid for selection. An enhanced quality here, often means a detriment somewhere else. Today we hear of DNA technology and how this will change our human form. This is very doubtful. In the end, the product will have biological debts, and these debts may not be affordable. So it’s very unlikely that any systematic way of breeding is going to work and its certainly not the way we have evolved so far.
Rather what determines how we breed most of the time-aside from the fundamental law of nature- is our culture. But before we go on, we should pre-empt some arguments and ask this question: how in a true democracy can we really choose how we should breed? If we listen to the DNA enthusiasts, we should go to a professional and have him or her tell us who our mate for procreation should be. But this is dubious at best. They may breed the right genetic material as they see fit, but the human being is awfully complex, and there will be bugs to deal with of that we should be certain. And no amount of screening is going to weed out the problems. Besides, it may well turn out that we are ourselves far better at choosing our mates than any system ever could be, assuming we make a real effort.
For one thing, we can’t ask the government to choose our mate for us, since we are after all a Free People, we are Free to Choose who we want to be our progeny’s parent. Asking the government would be counterproductive to anything like a democratic principle. And if we are concerned about our progeny, we should also be concerned about their chances of living in a free world as well.
Therefore, we should understand, even before going any further, that individual freedom demands that an individual choose their mate, and make the final estimation of what that mate might parent from each of us. Should freedom of choice ever be compromised in this respect, democracy will almost certainly fail. Free people will probably believe that their children too should be free as well.
Freedom of Choice is a necessity and an unimpeachable right of a free individual, but it must be tended to carefully.
We should consider another matter before going on: whether there is some truth to the statements of some that Race is in effect the natural selection process in action. Again, there is little point in stirring the putrid stew, we all know of racist claims that some races are simply superior to others and that nature has chosen one race to be master and another slave. We have heard the arguments countless times, one builds a conquering civilization, the other a slave civilization ripe for conquering. We have all heard the arguments of Hitler, and Himmler for example that some are born out of certain harsh necessities and this builds strength and power etc etc etc while others are bred for slavery and serfdom etc etc etc. But of course these arguments are ancient, and the Romans, the Greeks , and countless other elitists all around the world and on every continent and of every “race”, Black, White, Asian, American, or even Aboriginal has at one time in history used some such argument to justify their superiority over another, and to justify their rule over another. But the ultimate truth is that there really doesn’t seem to be anything like a “race” in the real world, save but a few general and superficial qualities like general skin color, or hair texture.
Like all formal doctrines taken too far, this doctrine of race too fades to nonsense when pushed to all powerful nature’s limits(as far as they apply to human beings.) The fact is that though it is true that terrain, and climate will favor certain human traits over others, and it is true that privation of one sort or other will tend to weed out those not suited to competition for a given resource, the reality is that those traits are rarely that well isolated. Those racial traits are never “pure” as the political ideologue is often prone to assert. Rather any given trait, in any culture, is usually balanced with another. Moreover, there is no “pure” race. Even the most isolated of peoples such as Inuit, or some of the more remote tribes of New Guinea are really just mixtures and admixtures of various human migrations. Even the Aboriginals of Australia are the result of historical migrations from southeast Asia and over time they have developed certain traits suited to their existence in a harsh, hot, dry climate.
There are no “pure” races as once believed. There is no “Black” race, or “White” race, or “Asian” etc. All these are mixtures and admixtures over of migrations which have occurred over tens of thousands of years.
Culture and Axiology
Rather what there does seem to be is culture, and this tends to be ephemeral, and always evolving, or devolving. And this is most likely the primary “breeder” inclusive of all natural necessity and privation. As we have come to realize today, even the most isolated of species will eventually evolve into something different given natural necessity. But human beings especially are never sedentary. It seems to be in our blood to occasionally ramble, to change locale, to move, to expand into a new world. A species like this will mix well no matter what it’s given state might be at any given moment. And this is more likely the true impetus behind our civilizations and their endless expansions, and “natural” selection. Why build a city where the toilet is five feet from the dining table unless there is a need to keep someone out? But cities never last if all they do is try to keep people out.
So even if environment will be a factor in breeding a particular group of people, the stronger factor is usually the process by which a given culture acclimates itself to a given set of circumstances. Culture is perhaps the most dominant force behind the particular traits that we choose to foster in our progeny, and this is natural and reasonable to assume.
The truth is that each individual in any given group, or society is made of many individuals, a genealogy thousands of generations long, and this is usually inclusive of most all human groupings. Each culture is usually an amalgam of groups and what traits may seem prominent, are almost always accidental, and ephemeral and would quickly disappear or redirect given any change of fundamental circumstance. Yet each culture has a set of values and its these values, these ideals that tend to create a society. These ideals, or principles, in most structured societies tend also to be one of the main factors for breeding.
Who is pretty, who is ugly, who is good, who is not, who is talented, who is smart, who is sane, who is not, who is rich, who is not, who fits, who doesn’t. All these are determined by the evolution of cultural values, and these have as their foundation the necessity of living in some harmony with the given environment. These are the determinants of human breeding over time.
Why Consider this at all?
Even if “Race” really is an ephemeral classification in the natural scheme of things(certainly it is not equal to the definitions of specie, and so biologically pretty insignificant) we can still consider the natural process of breeding. For though racism is not founded on much reality, natural, or even human selection is. There is a genetic factor at play in any given civilization. We really don’t have to look far to see this.
Consider that the Japanese are usually of a slight smaller build. This was probably necessary due to the difficult terrain of the Islands they inhabit. Japan is not the heart of Europe which can produce much more food than the rocky volcanic islands of Japan can, and so a smaller frame is probably needed in order to conserve the available food. It may also have been necessary to be small in order to negotiate the steep mountainous regions of the Japanese Islands.
Yet when we look at the Sumo wrestler we see a giant. We see a primed athlete that is much larger than the average Japanese and of course much stronger. Moreover, these people are to some extent bred as such in that they are families which tend to marry between themselves. It’s a profession, an honorable profession and Japanese culture has chosen to develop it. But even in what happens to be a very simple example we can get a sense of how culture and axiology can choose to breed certain types of people with certain attributes.
Consider also the two NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. We know that they come from “football” families. Their father Archie Manning was also a Quarterback. His two sons were apparently skilled enough to become NFL quality players. His first son, Peyton Manning is often considered one of the best ever to play the position. There is also the case of the “prodigy” Andrew Luck, who is today fast on course to becoming the next great quarterback of the National Football League. His father too was an NFL Quarterback. The same was true of Bob Giese, and his son , Brian.
Even in coaching we see the father former defensive coach for the Chicago Bears, Buddy Ryan whose two sons, Rex and Rob Ryan are now prominent coaches in the NFL also.
And there are many other examples in the NFL as well as other sports leagues.
The same is seemingly true of baseball player Bobby Bonds, and his son, now the home run king Barry Bonds.
There will be arguments here that all these talents are merely taught and not genetic. But there is a much better truth available, and which is critical here in that these people likely inherited some proclivity that made them learn a particular skill much faster and much better than most because their parents had that same proclivity. This is not to say that someone better might not come along without a notable parent having the same skill, but rather that there is a factor here, and it is “real”. Whether its vocal chords or the length of ones’ finger’s, as might be useful to a Quarterback, there is probably a natural tendency, or availability of certain traits conducive to a particular mode of existence. As long as the culture recognizes this, it can in some cases isolate it. Football families sometimes stick together for example. But even if they didn’t the notion and values may well help to create a reason for being with someone.
It is interesting to note that the Bach family too was a “musical” family. They tended, as a group of trade musicians to mingle, and marry. Whether this was intended or not is unclear, but the family did manage to produce one of the greatest of composers. Beethoven too had a parent who was a musician. Again, education is crucial, but aptitude and predisposition for given subjects may also be influenced by the parents. This has often been maintained by the science of psychology which will often attribute as much as 70 percent of a given aptitude to some innate predisposition as opposed to environmental influences. But environment may initiate the main selective process behind those individual predispositions.
Although there is much debate here, and it’s easy to see why, there are reasons why this may be a subject we should all concern ourselves with.
The fact is that environment, family, community, and culture act to in some way determine, modify and direct certain innate human traits over time. Even traits which are often considered abnormal, or aberrant behaviors can often be redirected and applied successfully in a well ordered community. What is not usually successful however, is when certain traits are reproduced without any cultural or behavioral modification or intervention.
Every nation on Earth has depressed sectors. They comprise every , “race”, creed and color of ethnic flag, and the consequences are usually the same for all of them. They show signs of poverty, crime, lack of mobility. Quite often they are that way for decades. Is part of the reason selective reinforcement and complete neglect?
The question is unsavory, and often those who might bring it up will be attacked as being racists, but the truth is that breeding even in human beings can be a natural force. And a community that loses its cultural cohesion and fundamental axiology will not have any of those orienting tools to deal with aberrant tendencies. We can argue these points forever, but no one should believe that genetic proclivities do not in some manner or form result in the existence of particular tendencies. Nor is it unnatural to assume that if all there is crime, and isolation, that the people who will be “successful” in those cases will be those most naturally suited for those activities. Again we can take a liberal way out of these possibilities and say that only education, and money make successful people or successful communities, but this would be wrong. Like all other creatures we tend to breed what we need. And if we are not careful, or if there is not enough social order to judge the outcome of pairings, the results could over time become catastrophic.
We have seen claims of malnutrition, or familial abuse, or crime running rampant, but quite often these reasons cannot explain the full scope of observed problems. Nor are these problems to be found in any one particular group. This is crucial, for the problem may be widespread and not merely limited to certain areas, or particular groups of people.
Again we should be careful here. We are not implying that everyone in a depressed, or socially isolated neighborhood anywhere in the world is condemned to being a criminal genetically. That is nonsense. But overtime certain “eccentric” or anti-social behavior can be established or reinforced by the choices made by individuals living in such communities.
It’s enough to say that poverty and social isolation of depressed communities can by itself cause psychological extremes to arise, but it is also true that if there are natural psychological eccentricities and these are not identified or processed by the culture eventually those eccentricities will propagate throughout the community and this may result in education and intervention becoming ever harder to apply. We can again say “this can’t possibly be true” but natural law would not confirm our claims. We are not very much different than other animals in this respect, save but that our “rationality” is a major component of the attributes that can be selected and passed on. Darwin’s revelations are probably just as applicable to human beings, as they are to any other species.
Society Seeks Order on all Levels
The key here is not genetics or breeding alone. The key is culture. Culture determines who we are more often than not. We are made of many souls, and we are taught from a young age the ways of perception and judgment. But over time these perceptions can lead to choices which can either help a community or hurt it. Our “rationality” can actually select the attributes it most values and can amplify these attributes through special selection, assuming rationale is in some way applied.
Though the early Europeans were often prone to judge so called “primitive” cultures as being weak or unprincipled, the truth is that many of those cultures encountered by the European explorers were actually quite advanced. Many took thousands of years to form and stabilize. During these great stretches of time a culture orders its ceremonies and hones its axiology and reinforces those attributes it most values. For one’s daughter to marry someone a certain set of criteria were necessary, and as these criteria were repeated throughout the ages, certain proclivities were prone to develop. Over time it would be natural to think that those who had certain talents that were viewed as valuable to the society at large, would tend would be enhanced through selective marriage and pro-creation.
This is not to say that all of this was just or good. It is true that some segments of the population were shut out. We need not look beyond England in the late eighteen hundreds to see what Charles Dickens had seen and what Lord John Russell had tried to change. Groups of depressed communities shut out from the mainstream and forced to live in perpetual poverty. This isolation is usually not going to produce good tendencies. Any instability would tend to propagate through the genetic pool and be reinforced, especially if the underlying culture was in some way compromised. Culture may take thousands of years to form, but it can be destroyed overnight. This was in fact the case with the Industrial era as many people flocked to the large cities for work.
The point is simply that a well developed culture will influence the development of talent even before conception.
Democracy and Principled Individuals
We have a culture in the global community which though strong is relatively young. The dynamism of the past few centuries has caused various fundamental changes in perception, customs and traditions. We have in many cases throughout the world corrupted the old cultures in favor of the new. Though there is some real good in this change, there is also potentially a great danger. The social norms and customs that are usually needed for the procreation of a new generation may no longer exist. There is a larger, very structured community, but often this community is presented to people as mass produced goods or form of behavior meant for mass consumption with too little care given to the details. More often than not we are being sold a new way of being with little concern over what this might ultimately produce. Often this can result in children coming into the world with little prior thought for their ultimate disposition. Again this is a touchy subject, and I know, but if there is no care given to the potential outcome, over time we may produce children that will have a difficult time adjusting to an ever more complex world. It is no accident that cultures which have been razed by conquest often degenerate to depressed levels only a few generations later. Without a certain degree of cultured order, whatever eccentric tendencies exist will eventually be propagated to a significant degree especially in communities isolated in poverty for long periods. This has happened many times before to many an empire.
Though we all support freedom, and government that serves and responds to the needs of individuals, we often do not pay attention to the details. That a democracy can only stand strong if the individuals who support it are themselves highly educated, and highly principled. A Democracy can easily degenerate if those who support it tend towards degeneration. We need not look too far or too long in history to see this. A Democracy that isolates large groups of people in perpetual, generational poverty eventually will degenerate and succumb.
Simply put, if isolation, poverty and crime are to become the norm for any given community anywhere in the world, nature will in time intervene and begin to create those individuals most suited to that existence. At least we should say that there will be a powerful natural impetus towards perpetuating this state. In such a state children may not be able to overcome no matter how much education is applied. This danger is of the worst kind and should not be ignored. If we continue to isolate communities in long term multi-generational poverty we will create a faltering democracy that ultimately degenerates to a severe loss of personal freedom. If a degenerative process of this nature continues, it could result in the return of some form of slavery.
Beyond that, we should not believe that this effect will remain in any given depressed and isolated community. If a strong principled culture does not exist, or is not reinforced in the larger community, the effects will propagate throughout the entire national entity. We would then have a Democracy suited for the elite, while the majority are doomed by nature and circumstance to a permanent lower rung.
What can be done?
The first thing that probably needs to be done is for a society to recognize and reaffirm its principles. By reaffirming those fundamental principles upon which a democratic society is based , a spiritual reanimation and revitalization of that society can begin. Quite often it is not a matter of economics, but of an ideological movement. Too often people think that the only way to energize communities is by throwing money at them. But more often than not this fails since the fundamental principles of Democracy are not based on Capitalism but on fundamental principles of individual freedom, and principled existence. Although freedom of expression and evolution of a liberal nature can be beneficial to a society it must be well balanced with a strong conservatism that maintains and reinforces the fundamental precepts of the democracy. In essence all things in good measure are what will breed excellence. An ideological regeneration is really what is needed in the nation at large, and then once the nation itself has regained its own integrity it can begin to impart that integrity on all the various communities which comprise the nation at large.
Today we have absurd models for the procreation of children. In some places it looks fashionable for an unwed mother to have a circumstance baby. As if there’s something cool in being an unwed mother. The media has little helped with this. It has often happily broadcast the accidental baby to a famous person as if to say being famous means you can have a child out of wedlock, and out of any commitment. This tends to reinforce common cultural trends and many are bound to replicate the behavior. But this is destructive, and it begs nature’s awful wrath. Like any cultivated plant, or flower, a child will only grow well if cared for, and if its inception was well planned and the planting well executed. Children are serious business, and culture, and the consideration of culture and community should be a “data point” from which all families form. Having children as a fashion statement is not going to result in anything good in the long run, most especially as nations grow ever larger, and ever more complex.
As a Democratic nation becomes larger and more complex there will be an increasing danger of creating isolated pockets of perpetually poverty stricken communities. For this reason a strong ideological foundation is required that is free of political incentives and biases. Though practical solutions are always necessary, most of the time it’s the assumption of principles that will have the desired effect. It is ideas that motivate people, it is ideas that get people to construct well functioning communities, it is ideas that build strong family units, it is ideas that build individual character. Industry alone is not going to be enough. To prevent a self reinforcing cycle of endless social degeneration a powerful reanimation of the fundamental democratic ideology must be undertaken, and if this fails, it is very unlikely that consumerism, or capitalism alone are going to prevent the complete degeneration of our society.
A note about Racism
Racist ideologues have in the past used notions of Eugenics and breeding to justify their views. But as we have pointed out, there is really no such thing as a race. In all continents we see vast differentiation of peoples to the point where its really very hard to say that any two people are from the same district much less are of the same “Race”. But even if this is so, and even if racists have at times misused these ideas, we should not ever think that natural law stops at anyone’s door. It just doesn’t. Having children is serious business, and it really should not be so haphazard as it seems to have become in some areas. Culture breeds what it needs, and a degenerating culture will do the same as a revitalized culture. Some awareness of this should be part of the calculus of any or all Democracies.
As for the racist ideologues, we can say with some certainty that in all things there is some truth, and a lot less than that as well.
Though some of what is being said here is ugly, this post is a warning really. If what we want to build is an elitist society nature will eventually oblige us and may predispose our democracies to oligarchy through natural selection. If we continue to isolate groups of people, nature might affirm that this is really what we want to do and finish the process through selection; but once done we may not be able to change our direction all that easily and our collective fate may be sealed. Our natural predispositions are very much a part of our society.
A true democracy must depend on all its people, and must culture and cultivate the talents of all its people, or it eventually stops being a true democracy. We must reawaken the fundamental ideology at the foundations of our democracies and apply these everywhere within in order to avoid creating a natural predisposition to oligarchy.
There is a price for everything, and we should be careful what we buy into. We may not be able to afford the final cost.