For centuries, if not millennia, man has struggled to understand what has caused both success and failure of his various cultures.
As we have tried to understand the nature of particle physics, evolution, and the biology or neuroscience, how our incredibly complex brains work, the practical comprehension has required a process which has taken centuries.
Some science and our understanding of the internal process remains elusive and still beyond the scope of our knowing, while in others, as in the science of cultures, the physics of why some fail and others succeed, we can see, more or less, the outlines of their construction.
The social structure called democracy, and notable for having a small ‘d’, is one of the processes which, with our reasonably complex understanding of evolution, we can now say we have, a credible and reasonably complete understanding. As the agrarian society of our elders transformed to that which supported the industrial revolution, the deconstruction of the family as the elemental social molecular structure began to disintegrate. This does not mean we know enough yet to alter the course of human events and change the behavior of man or his artifact, the culture of one or another grouping of these mammals, however we do now have a basic outline of the building blocks, much as, in the last century we developed the periodic table for terrestrial elements essential to a more thorough and complete understanding of the chemistry, foundational to the study of all biota.
Ironically, though reasonably, the understanding of the human condition, from the phylogenetic standpoint and the elements of macro behaviors which lead to the success or failure of the phylum, come from, in part, the study and understanding of some of the quite complex artifacts of human behavior and the human condition as it relates to the progression and passage of their lives.
The fundamental question of this inquiry then is why and how do some civilizations flourish and why and how do some collapse.
A peek into the genesis and function of democracy will point sketch the answer into two laboratory quality petri-dishes, football and racism, real time cat scans of human behavior, and provide an incredible insight and understanding into apparently inchoate facts.
Clearly our focus comes from the very specific state of the civilization currently prevalent in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas and largely bounded by the geographic region called the United States.
In this society racism, a behavioral tool employed historically for self defense, manifest in one class or race unduly using, dominating, enslaving, debasing, employing another against it’s will, clearly a vestigial appendage of another earlier epoch and of incredibly important evolutionary value; is still widely prevalent.
Racism, at it’s best, helped preserve the gene pool, keep pestilence and plague from decimating cultures, made or shaped the future of kith and kin and more than not served to further the species and the incorporation, into their genetic mix, of a more successful more beneficial, evolutionary gain.
Endemic to this natural selection and evolutionary gain, fostering and succeeding, in part from the recognition of foreign or alien families, species, or races which would, could or did threaten the very survival of their own, is an elemental equation naturally fostering unfairness and inequality.
Fundamental to the success of a species, until the perhaps artificial introduction of democracy, is the absolute law of ‘might makes right,’ and in this, there is scarce room for the more sophisticated and presumably refined notions of equality and the outcomes of the egalitarian societies whose rise were so pronounced in these last centuries, all be they with historic roots in ancient nomadic and agrarian man.
In stark opposition, and an unsuspecting fortuity for the scientist wishing to understand evolution, there is, in this Hemisphere a veritable living and dynamic laboratory of human behavior providing at once a control and experimental group with which one can quite easily further the study of the oncoming collapse of this species of man.
Found in a game advanced and nurtured by those inhabitants of this geographic region known as the America’s, there is an enormous population who organize themselves, in play, into a governing body called the National Football League and it’s preoccupation and association, one of their most popular and near universal artifact, is found in a game generally called football.
In other continents and land masses all over the planet, there are similar cultural and athletic undertakings with similarly near universal participation which, though too called, ‘football’ utilize a different tool or artifact, round but of much the same proportion and construction but specifically called, by this American culture, a ‘soccer ball’.
Despite the manifest differences in the rules and essential attributes of the sport, they are uncommonly alike and absolutely provide the same global and cultural intricacies, insights and outcomes.
Football, in it’s currently highly organized format, albeit with roots tracing back millennia, appears, curiously an anti-dote to the humiliation, struggle and often outright degradation and unfair play of a culture which espouses universal freedom, known in these America’s as a constitutional democracy, but practices differently.
Football allows an individual or group to act out all of the complex attributes of the human experience as brought to us by evolution, including the horror of tribalism, warfare and cannibalism while still maintaining the structure of a small ‘d’ democracy as taught from the ancient lineage of ancestors around the campfire.
Agrarian Australopithecine wandering through Africa and Eastern Europe to the more recognizably recorded civilizations of the ancient Ottomans, Greeks and Romans learned, somewhat, and codified the rules, of equality, civility, honor and rights, allegedly due the common man and the responsibilities of the governors, to work for the governed.
The nearly unbelievable popularity for this game of football, contrasted to the extraordinary contempt and near visceral hatred for the undertaking and outcome of politics, other than those whose interests advantage the participants with wealth or power, is a near perfect scientific key, a virtual strand of DNA allowing a methodical and anthropological peek into the occasion of the failure and collapse of many of the modern civilizations of Western man.
Indeed, though the science is still out, and like the geologic record of ancient fossils more difficult to collect and gather for the detailed forensic study needed, it appears the same mechanisms which are debilitating the US, Western Europe, the British Empire, Greece and other rich and storied cultures, stretching back as far as the Russian Empires of Catherine the Great, Napoleon, the Ottomans, Pharaoh’s, Persia, the Ming, the Han, Sing, and a thousand others well before is no more or less than the simple and unsolvable equation which, on the one side posits commonwealth and the greater good, while on the other, categorically relies on the millions of years of evolutionary teachings which vest right, in the power of might, and reason in the hands of those whose interests are initially and finally, their own, once and always to the exclusion of, and trumping the ‘greater good’ of man.
Clearly, the behaviors of ‘right makes might’ and ‘self interest’ are readily known by all. It is an essential part of our evolutionary past to kill or be killed.
There are none who have not suffered under the hand of ‘social injustice’ in the first person or if so, none who do not understand how the base meanness and naturally selfish behavior of man leaves little room for ‘commonwealth’ and or the ‘greater good’.
With this as an ‘a priori’, and knowing factually how we have survived ice ages, saber tooth tigers and giant lemurs, none can dispute we know the elements and bounds of this side of the evolutionary coin, so the real question is from where did the notion of the ‘greater good’ arise, and irrespective of the answer, is it of any essential or ‘a priori’ merit, and finally, is it possible, in the life history of modern culture that the very push and pull of self interest versus commonwealth is the very seed of it’s destruction.
In scientific terms, like the human appendix, a vestigial and now antiquated behavior or secondary autonomy learned from a culture ten hundred thousand years ago and now, an autonomous but dated afterthought, one must posit perhaps the application of democratic principle is now, not only useless but the very cause of the ruination and ultimate collapse Western civilization has so repeatedly endured. Though counterintuitive, perhaps the very fact of a modern civilization making promises of a culture appearing to reflect the ancient agrarian community and it’s more familial promise of universal care, and the indomitable forces of capitalism and the power of the dialectic of evolutionary gain are simply mutually exclusive.
Whatever man may or may not be, we are creatures borne of the evolutionary process of survival. We know empirically a variable negatively reinforced schedule of reward (the relief from the hangman’s whip) or ‘punishment’ is far and away the most powerful ‘stimulus response’ paradigm known to man. Given our centuries or millennia of religious fervor, (promising our own democratically provisioned rights or that of a benevolent and omniscient creator), it is no surprise the cannons of Christianity, the notion of being kind to a fellow man and the persuasion to be nice and share kindness and care with Commonwealth, is but the infantile and well learned, superstitious fear, that lightening may strike, that hell may not freeze over and that we may be punished for our naturally uncharitable ways.
Instilled by the robe and cross of the shaman frightening us as children and adults to follow their precepts, and of course, be kind as the tithing plate was passed, this is but another example of the natural conflict, most usually articulated by the ‘Constitutional democrats’ in excoriating the shame and rank meanness of the natural greed and selfishness of man, a mantle now most widely worn by the ‘conservative Republicans’.
In the solution to this equation, however it be conjugated, there is much that will inform us as individuals and perhaps, more importantly, much that will inform our body politic so to allow it a greater chance of successful promulgation and perpetuation.
Evolution does not care how we look, what we are and how silly, erratic or manifestly unconscionable our actions may appear, rather the absolute imperative of our biologic existence is to persist, persevere, and perpetuate ourselves, morality and conscience, (a vestigial tool of the church and early democrats from Aristotle to Locke, Russeau and the slave owning founding fathers), notwithstanding.
How then is the reasonably simple game, football, so emblematic, ubiquitous and nearly tautological in elucidating human behavior and the elemental causes of it’s manifest decline. What is the reflection of the human condition which is apparently so disparate and so fundamentally different than the daily efforts and outcomes in our social and democratic lives.
In the question there is much to be said for either outcome, either way of life, but caught in the middle, as the American’s seem, struggling to redefine the brain of a capitalist to recognize and accept socialism, or to convert the brain and will of the socialist to a willing slave or slave owner is an incongruence and seeming impossibility no less beneficial or likely than trying to breed Zebra’s without stripes.
In the end, simply acknowledging that one doesn’t want to care for or educate the young, provide for the weakest and most vulnerable, then at least the populace can decode the problems facing them in a more amicable and less adversarial fashion and the quality of life, without the circus of a house divided, and the contagion likely to persist will quiet. Disagreements will decline and all will live a more peaceful and possibly productive life.
America and much of the Western world are sloughs of conflict and ambiguity, yet unique among the undertakings of their many pastimes and hobbies is this sport and in that world of make believe is the one which allows us, as a civilization to enact all of the fantasy of a theoretical way of life, in this instance, the promise of democracy, and the simple social antecedent which declares any one can be a president or gain any success of their own making.
Racism, in these Judeo-Christian democracies, has always presented a conundrum for those whose secular or religious preaching has included the manner in which one man ought treat another. Though many treat the separation of church and state as witness to the fundamental awareness of the founding fathers notion of a state being more than the sum of our infantile or evolutionary notion of the world, perhaps, like all artifice of man, the ‘separation’ was a contractual strategy which, though naming the ‘evil’ from which we tried to separate in protecting this new child of Western democracy, historically or psychiatrically, one might more appropriately call it an instance of ‘Identification with the aggressor’ or as Freud would postulate, a way to name the substance of the fear, the ultimate transcendence of which was becoming the essence of the fear (thing) itself.
An absolute universally espoused admonition, racism, the simple hatred, contempt or fear and loathing of one race by another, the hallmark of modern australopithecine and most species who have to compete, acknowledged openly in any form, recently has not been nor is now politically correct.
This societies entire moral structure, manifestly is built upon the bulwark of the presumption of the equality all men share, to which all men have an inalienable birthright and which, amongst other sacred documents is memorialized in their constitution, law, statute and all legal and ethical doctrine of the mainstream.
There have been, to be sure, hold outs from the civil war, confederates who cherish and or quietly harbor the hope reason will once again return and Aryan rights of the white man will once again become the law of the land, but by and large, tacitly or openly, racism, manifestly has been thought to have been quelled.
Factually, it exists both in its simplest form, and metastasized in the reality of economic disparity, opportunity, and all aspects of multicultural life, all be these institutions largely silent on the articulated notions underlying the facts.
A house divided describes this country in ways more profound than the presumably political events of the year 2011 including the debt ceiling debate, budget reconciliation, government shutdown and other man-made crises begin to portray. The strength of the vitriol and contempt is more reminiscent of Catholics and Muslims in the crusades or American pioneers slaughter of Native American Indians or the Pograms and Holocaust of European Jews.
One cannot hear or look at all of the anguish and anger, philosophical differences notwithstanding, and not recognize there is, at the root of it, an unspoken, profound and ancient artifice of man’s very real and evolutionary past at work. Racial fear, hatred and contempt is but the reasoned and historically learned behavior of a tribe taking care of it’s own, utilizing the smell of thunder to avoid lightning, the poison of the rhubarb leaf to avoid gastrointestinal distress or death and the smell of decay or putrefaction to avoid the plague or some real or imagined historical threat.
While it is clearly true reasonable men and women can and do differ in their view of the world, cause and effect, outcomes, unintended or otherwise, it is not possible to have such enmity, outright anger, irrational contretemps without something more fundamental and thus far not spoken, to give such prime-evil and near sub-cortical instinctual force to the differences which in turn characterize the tone of those arguing and thinking to reason in such a visceral and nearly inexplicable anger, all speaking past the issues, past each other, growing more intractable, more angry and ever more frustrated as a result.
There is, unequivocally, no right or wrong to any views or outcome expressed. One can live or die by the sword or by the rule of law and in the end it likely makes little difference, so why then, is the element of truth, as to our motivations or ultimate interests, so obfuscated.
In the modern Judeo-Christian culture of the Americas where frank, forthright and honest discussion have presumably been the hallmark of the rights and freedoms forbears bestowed, why then is the population so plagued by the nearly universal calamity of false testimony, lies, deceit and the elements of language that serve not to elucidate and enable the listener to understand but rather an outright and steady drumbeat of innuendo and dissimulation, prevarication and outright deceit.
What is, then, at root of the contradiction, the apparent and too often clear difference between fact and the words of their politicians.
As in the case of racism, a long unsettled issue in this country, though there has been a political correctness in not stating one’s contempt or hatred for a policy or thought based soley on race, it has been clear, simple racism, the tribal ‘them and us’ of a true and beneficial evolutionary gain, for reason or habit, is at root of those carrying on this persistent and increasingly unpleasant declamation.
As there is no right or wrong to the complexity of these issues, if we delve into the societal ambitions and interests perhaps there will be a marker or ruler by which one can take a measurement to at least acknowledge and better understand the facts, clouded heretofore.
In the end, it does not matter if one species want to kill another because of their race, or to set the elderly on the iceberg as they are no longer of use to the society, rather, if one was more forthright separating fact from feeling, then the rancor could lessen.
There is, beside a well conditioned populace, perhaps no evolutionary benefit which naturally arises from a more pacific and manifestly harmonious way of life, however from the view of the ‘democrat’ there is the promise lost of ‘life liberty and happiness’ and to the ‘supra-capitalist, racist, man of self interest’, a happy slave will produce more and buy more which is essential to the ultimate goal and gain of the simply evolutionary benefit of greater good and glory for those who are able, by their wit and cunning, to so benefit.
Peace, within a country is a win-win for all. Not true, necessarily for war with foreigners and all of the benefits which arise from a state of controlled hostilities, but within a country or geopolitic and geographic divide, the cost of uncertainty and distress is far more than the displeasure of those suffering.
If at the beginning of the day, all enslaved have no expectations otherwise and know their purpose, in some form or fashion is to serve, to aggrandize the life, interests wealth or benefits of others; their own interests secondary and subordinate, then there is a de facto diminution of discord and a consequential betterment of the social structure which enhances the rich with the labor of the enslaved.
If we set out truly and forthrightly the facts of societal rule, whatever they be, the right of the might, the inapplicability of the rule of law, and the moral and political correctness of disparate wealth, immobile social class, inequity as a way of life, differential rights and responsibilities based on class or birth or happenstance, then there is less to disconcert those from whatever ilk they arrive or befall from the incessant and debilitating argument over who gets what, where and when.
Privatize profits, socialize losses.
In football, one is, by rule, allowed and in fact encouraged to be as mean and tough and cruel, within the bounds of the rules, as one can humanly be, while still, maintaining the overarching promise to adhere to the rules of the game or suffer the consequence.
Whether it is an unjust foreclosure ruining families and whole communities, or a simple hit and run, a betrayal or the unexpected loss of a loved one, there is no place in the little ‘d’ democratic lives where justice is so ready and handy, applicable and appropriate, final and unequivocal as seen on this field of play.
Though one hears and sees daily the now doctrinal rights of the commonwealth, especially in the most advanced western societies, betrayed and portrayed before our eyes on 24/7 cable, one knows, intuitively and factually there are few ways to speak truth to power. Despite the words and accolades of democracy, one also knows that the ruling elite, from royal wealth or the ill-acquired power of the governed, represent a failed political system which cannot impose even the simplest control of term limits upon itself. Daily, Western man sees and feels harshly the impacts of the simple and conflicted interests of opposition of the words of freedom and the factual outcomes. Too often their governments, of, by and for the people are in reality surrogates of special interests, the military industrial complex and the pervasive and often pernicious toy of the ruling class.
In democracy, one can break rules and, as in this last financial crisis, do all the time.
There are banks acting like pirates, politicians like cowboys, and in every twisted fashion and perversion of the rules; while in football and on these fields, all are honor bound to submit to the rule of the ref’ and the whistle that says, ‘oh no’, or ‘just out’, ‘not fair’ or ‘personal foul.’
The national fascination for football is no more or less than it being the absolute embodiment of everything we had thought our society and culture to be, a fair, recognizable life style at once thrilling, fun, demanding of our best and with rules in which every prince and pauper has exactly the same chance, exactly as promised in the democracy earned while pledging allegiance to the flag in their youth.
Rarely if ever has there been a similar and so consequential court of last or first resort in life for the injustices, real or perceived, as they occur and the glory, won or lost on the field of battle and in the days of their lives.
Modern society, the free market capitalistic form of democracy beholden to the oligarchs purports to have the equity and parity, the integrity and moral suasion of sport, but it is a pretense at best and increasingly, in a house as divided as in the US, not even a bad joke when one group or another can, summarily, say this 50 million group of people will or won’t have health insurance or the ability to live in the highest evolutionary state of grace the current science and culture can provide.
The pretense of church, morality, commonwealth, the greater good has slipped away but the shroud and pretense of it’s occasion, the ‘we the people’ and government ‘of, by and for the people’ notion has persisted and though the dream of democracy has eroded, there is a moment on any Sunday, and for the world in the super bowl or world cup, in which everyone has to play by the rules and it is such a welcome relief more than one in every three men, women and children take part, a greater percent of the populace than those who even vote.
It is true this relief, perhaps a drug, perhaps panacea, perhaps an incredibly complex and well developed artifact of the rulers to give surcease to the reality of slavery and serfdom they have yet to announce or acknowledge publicly, works, but the purpose of this inquiry is to see if, under the circumstances, and knowing the efficacy of this momentary lapse, there isn’t a way, given the plutocratic rule of oligarchs hold on the day, that one cannot better use this panacea to better the good will of good slaves, diminish the rancor and with such sophisticated mechanisms, employ them more widely so to limit the perceived harshness of those, not part of the elite, wanting always a larger share of what may not be culturally and societal theirs to share.
Or alternatively, to recreate the model employing the immediate and unequivocally justiciable ‘rule of law’ as witnessed in the game ‘football’ to the real world of the quasi- democratic, quasi-plutocratic, fundamentally capitalistic society and thereby grant the relief and justice as seems immediately and universally applicable on the field of play.
Football and similarly World Cup Soccer, sports of all kinds offer a fundamental peek into the essential conflict of Democracy and the modern world. Indeed, until we understand and perhaps incorporate these facts of our being, our essential DNA, we are more likely to collapse and fail than not, for have we essentially taken a carnivore, and because of some religious belief or ethos fenced him into a pasture allowing the beast only a diet of greens and grasses while all of it’s adult life, denying it even the hint of fresh meat, less the blood and brains that come from a new kill.
Inherent in a capitalist society is the critical ingredient of simple, amoral greed. It is a way of life as historical and ubiquitous as any Precambrian species learned to satisfy it’s natural demand for self sustaining perpetuation. It is, factually no different than any self respecting mountain lion or shark going out for the morning to feed to take care of itself or it’s young.
As the Post Office has not yet reckoned with it’s vestigial and near antiquated value, most transactions now taking the form of electronic digitized paper, there is a lag in our understanding the evolutionary changes to our moral ethos, occasioned perhaps by the pervasiveness of capitalism or the breadth of the internet and this delay has not appropriately contrasted the curious symbiotic nature of an agrarian society where many of the members have relationships built upon the reliance of the others help and mutual aid, the fundamental structure of that patriarchy, has been replaced with a Wall Street mentality that espouses free markets and the ascendency of it’s associated credos.
Though of habit and perhaps an unnecessary shame arising from the moral nature and ethos through which we passed from agrarian to colonial to capitalistic state, in truth, the reality of capital, like bestial might is the ancient freedom in which ‘might is right’ and all of the innuendo and deceit of god and country, but a sham.
To be sure, this deceit of democracy and commonwealth keeping the common man enslaved, a critter for their prey, a tool for the munificence arising from more sophisticated forms of enslavement in debt or consumerism is effective, only this inquiry posits it would be moreso, if articulated and there is little benefit, and indeed, the seeds of anguish and ultimately collapse if the clarity and ultimate fact of this asymmetric right to benefit is not made public.
In one of it’s most perfect models, factories are peopled so to continue running, mercenaries are provided for the armies allowing, amongst other benefits, oil or natural resources at a subsidized and unnaturally artificial rate, and a whole panoply of other smaller but still Machiavellian benefits which in the end, though furthering the disparity of a community based wealth, aggrandize always the power and tools of the evolutionary gain of the solitary childless shark.
At the end of this day, the moral structure of the ancient agrarian and family based matriarchy ( patriarchy) has and will continue to fail the free market capitalist style of our now metastasized democracy.
Though we have kept the precepts and freedom sounds better than slavery, as free markets sound better than autocratic control, today’s free markets are a way more sophisticated form of enslavement and, witness the housing bubble and foreclosure rate, there is little left for the security of 300 million Americans who can lose half their net worth to the tomfoolery of BofA and CitiGroup with AIG supporting in a secondary role and indemnified all the while by the very institution, presumably there to serve the purposes of the common good, more resembling a common slave’s tax or tithe paid sum.
Football, curiously, so ubiquitous, provides a single opportunity for all of the prisoners of debt, the ‘have not’s’ of society as well as those who act differently but still espouse publicly the outcomes of freedom, a moment to see the structure and form of a whole microcosm of life played on a national stage with the truths and fairness of a ‘rule of law’, and the underpinning of commonwealth, persuasive of democracy. Though we know lesser species to be amoral, to kill, violate our notion of the ‘ten commandments’ and act in ways regularly and pervasively for their personal gain, we know they protect their family with a fierceness and indomitable life force we all admire.
In football, we see yet another reflection of ourselves, and perhaps the most sought after and forgiving, which is benign, despite the violence, honorable, despite the savagery, admirable despite the brutality and estimable for the absolute and unambiguous tenant obliging all to play by and honor the law of ‘rules’.
© Guy Herman 2012 All Rights Reserved
The predatory and nearly prescient behavior of ants in husbanding, protecting, farming and feasting on aphids has been noted in part for some years, but the extent to which both predator and prey benefit, seeking such a symbiotic arrangement, notwithstanding it’s always predictable and fatal outcome, is extraordinary, and in some equally incredible ways underscores the real moral, political or simply behavioral issues related to Gold(m)an Sac(hs)s and other predators recently in the news.
Species of ants who live in the neighborhood of the tiny aphid had recognized long ago their succulence, feeding on fruit as they do, and their sweet and honey laced protein is second, in life, only to a great quantity of these delectable morsels in a single spot and across a close proximity of time.
The ants, eating a hundred times their body weight in a day are, by fractions, the biggest small predator on earth, with a weight to feed ratio ten times a human.
But of all their culinary treats they most adore the honeydew produced by the aphid as waste and excreted in a fashion which the caretaker ants can easily harvest.
To further underscore the wonder and sophistication of the ant, they are not only known to corral the aphid into farms where they are more easily readied for feeding , but too, are disinclined to travel away from the captive ants by virtue of the small scent of poison the ant lays with it’s foot track, at once, slowing down the aphid in its attempted escape and too, making certain they are corralled to a certain segment of the geography which is easily accessible to these arthropodic farmers and their thirsty patrons.
Equally extraordinary for these farmer ants, is the level of sophistication of their practice of animal husbandry.
In their evolutionary success they have mastered not only the significant issue of how to raise the food stocks, feeding themselves in a sustainable fashion, a model the smartest of the Western world modern countries can only hope to emulate, and a feat modern American agriculture has struggled to accomplish, they have also, unlike their two footed geographically proximate human neighbor, developed a non toxic mechanism for keeping their own feed stock and crop from the pestilence of bees, birds, vermin and other critters which, as we have experienced in American Agronomy, has occasioned the need of treatments from DDT to words too long to be clearly elocuted by man, and equally poisonous to the environment, while ants have built into their agronomic model a pure and ecologically sound mechanism to treat and protect their crop of aphids from infiltration and or attack from other predators.
Not unlike the Taliban and or many of the more stringent middle eastern and Muslim communities who oblige their women to gown themselves in the Birka and bounded foot, suppressed heart and terrified subjugation, controlling their loyalty and conjugal availability or monogamous servitude by threat of the staff and rod, ants not only clip the wings of the aphids so to prevent them from free flight, and they are smart enough to clip them just enough so the parameters of their flight path cannot exceed the boundaries of the plot which the ants maintain, allowing the aphids still to fly enough to find and obtain the tree borne leaf from which they make their sought after honey dew, but limited in long flight so not to escape.
And even more extraordinary, not unlike the Goldman Sachs, one of the many forms of vertebral life prevalent in a geographic area known as Wall Street, acting as traders and hedge fund managers, and finding their honeydew in the papyrus-like forms of paper called currency and stock; they are themselves well evolved and smart enough to both sell long, bet short and have both sides of the transaction in house and like the ant, guaranteeing success both in the here and now of daily feeding and in the long term with a permanent albeit well husbanded supply of fresh meat.
Ants long known for this their predilection for the Goldan Sac, the honeydew of the aphid, are likely unaware of the likeness of their anthropomorphic relative, the bi-pedal cousin found in the Goldman Sachs of the food chain.
In watching the behavior of the bi-pedal Sachs, one must assume too they have scant knowledge of their evolutionary precursors as they appear uncertain of those practices which, like the ant and aphid ensure their long term success and their evolutionary imperative.
In each of their worlds, the honey pot or Goldan Sac provided, willingly or not, the detainees, though appearing victims, are themselves beneficiaries of the symbiosis and transactions as well and there appears some phylogenetic benefit, though certainly in the scheme of time, the ants success runs for millions of years while the Goldman’s is reasonably said to be in it’s formative or adolescent state.
Like the farmer ant, Goldman Sachs, when they have exhausted the honeydew of their clients riches, and initiated the manifest destiny, selling long and short around them, always guarantee a takeover. When captive clients long or short, run out of money altogether and their honey pot is depleted, the client’s find themselves unwittingly at a feast of their own making and thinking they are set to dine with their guests, like the aphids are the object, rather of the dinner and the food on the platter these modern day farmers have planned.
Herein is the mystery which must be questioned for as the aphid benefits from the good husbandry of the ant, though it is ultimately both slave and sweet delight, how so does the client of the more recent evolutionary adaptation of this Goldan Sac so benefit, if they too are ultimately to be shorn of their honey, their worldly wealth and in the end fall prey to the Goldman Sach’s insatiable appetite.
For aphids, the answer is alarmingly simple, as no self respecting aphid would choose to be snatched from it’s leaf, mid-bite by a hungry avian predator over the orderly life of agricultural production, a participant in good husbandry and a more or less predictable life and ultimate demise.
And if centuries of the pre carnivorous and ill educated middle age precursor of this Sachian Australopithicine, the Crusaders, used one of the earliest forms of bi-pedal rod and staff, an angry Diety, pressed into the subjugated lives, willingly, of any who didn’t obey, why not then posit the same underlying need for order and reprieve from chaos that endless riches, or the promise or earning and pursuit of endless riches, despite the near satiated nature and being this modern aphid enjoyed, as a model which, for the very sanity and order, was a well sought after arrangement allowing their stronger and more cunning farmer Goldman Sachs the wherewithal to husband, farm, grow, enjoy, fleece and ultimately feed upon as a far better alternative than chaos and the dark side.
Like the ants and the aphids it is at once both brilliant, nearly byzantine and elegantly audacious, if not for the perfect symmetry and efficiency of the undertaking, the incredibly economic use of assets, but too, the perfect beauty and holistic utility of a practice we have always thought of as modern man’s agronomistic fortune and wisdom for being able to both milk the cow for years and when, exhausted and spent, finding the most beneficial, and still life sustaining, practice of making hamburger of the carcass.
Here, in the more modern world of 21st century man and his artifice, we find two similar species, from the same phylogenetic perspective, who have largely recreated and utilized the tools and structural societal manner of the ant and aphid, in a form of expected and acceptable predation, the highest and near platonic form of relationship in which each of the diad get something for what they give, as do the ant and the aphid, and each work assiduously to cultivate the interests, albethey often lethal, with great and persistent effort.
It is easy to look at the Golden Sac form of agriculture in which the parent, Golden nurtures the investors and large institutions, with a similar agricultural methodology, husbanding many of the needs and actually benefitting the colony, albeit for the ultimate purpose of feeding the Sac and becoming, like the aphid, the natural prey, earned by the well organized and near scientific care of the farmer, and find a moral complaint, however no one of recent note has ever said or claimed any such unfairness of the ant or the aphid, though clearly the factual predation, prepared, processed planned and properly well executed is stunning and easily leaves the unwitting observer agok.
Goldman Sachs, in it’s anthropomorphic version of the ant/aphid symbiosis seems to have learned its biological imperative from none other than these tiny creatures who, beyond the realm of good and evil, or ethos and ethic, have crafted a surprisingly similar relationship with their own interests and that of their client and in the end, whatever is the refractive color of the lens through which we see such behavior, one must well imagine Charles Darwin can only see it all and smile.
© 2011 Guy Herman All Rights Reserved
Many people, as common consensus reports, see congress, democracies worldwide and as an institution paralyzed and unable to move or succeed.
But there are wildly successful and billion year old cultures whose activity seems to suggest otherwise.
There are, likely no congress people who only at the time of passage of any given bill have the thought to enact civil rights, make war or deliver universal healthcare, and similarly, there is no time, generally that some of the elements of the common cold, the H1N1 flu or even aids and food poisoning don’t live in the body corporate of the human being.
Like most organic systems, only upon the massing and bi-lateral colony wide assessment of there being sufficient quantities, in congressional terms, a plurality, to make the person sick, impose the infestation, waste the body or pass the law or ordinance or regulation is it then that these phylogenetic colony wide changes occur.
While we used to be able to mobilize for war, the moon, education, a better life, The US congress appears hopelessly mired in a paralysis as Americans have not known since the civil war and one which has brought the public sentiment not far from riot, civil commotion and an anger outright, we know historically, evoked the same kinds of feelings, if not magnitudes that proceed revolutions and the shot heard round the world.
Let’s look for a moment at our biological past and see the difference and sameness with our bacterial 2 billion year old precursors who, till this day outnumber us and live, by many standards, a more healthy and fruitful lifestyle.
Bacteria can double and redouble at will, even, some may say, without will as it is as close to autonomic as the word, on its most fundamental level might mean.
Bacteria thrive when alone, or together. They can live at 30,000 feet below sea level on sulfur emissions, without light and at 30,000 feet above sea level on the highest of alpine lichen strewn cavity or, many would now say, on the moon and fed with only light.
Bacteria many say have mastered the art of survival, can live symbiotically, in clusters, colonies, by themselves and or in groups and most extraordinary and unlike the human condition, can act, as necessary and as befits their phylogenetic whole, in unison to get or have the object of their quarry or hunt for colonization hopes and dreams. Bacteria are smart enough to have or get everything they may want in life.
Unlike the more sophisticated human, the only paralysis bacteria suffer is unbelievably recognized in advance and may be an arctic winter of hibernation, the circadian rhythm of a squid waiting for daylight or dark to multiply or grow and all or any of the evils of poor diet in the human host, a lack of industrial hygiene in our cities and cultures. Bacteria live and thrive and make conquest when they want and are more or less fulfilled and indestructible.
Neanderthal thrived, in struggle, for 200,000 years and homo sapiens, ourselves, have had more or less another 100,000 years at bat, but by even the most conservative accounts, we have effected global warming, ruined our habitat, been reckless with our food supplies, endangered many of the lesser species upon whom we depend for our food supplies, clogged the air which we breathe which by all accounts is essential and worse have polluted, and or outgrown our sources of clean water to a point which, more dire than losing our oil supplies, will, sooner than later cause some 2 billion of us to go with an unslaked thirst.
Bacteria have learned the art of quorum sensing and the mechanism to become pathogenic, a fancy way to say, bacterium are smart enough to know what they want, to wait until they are ready, and when of sufficient power and strength, they amass, like Napoleon at the gates of Helena and take over the body corporeal or whatever is their choice and but for a dwindling supply of increasingly less effective antibiotics, we are helpless to stop their indomitable march.
Pathogenicity or virulence, truly is a characterization of simply having what it is one wants.
To the 10,000,000 turkeys we slaughter in the days preceding Thanksgiving, they say we, humans are virulent and our pathogen, the butchers knife or slaughter house is indefatigable.
So too do we describe the body wasting and deadly effects of the AIDS virus or H1N1 or the plague, but in truth, it is no more or less than a colony of critters, humans or bacterium, having their way and getting what it is they want.
A colony of bacteria may so say similarly, when we try to kill, maim, or injure it’s corporeal integrity with the deadly toxin of the antibiotic but in truth, no more or less a hurt and foul on the less strong organism, the bacterium, single celled and 2 billion years old is way more adept at survival and evolutionary gain or adaptation than are, those with the largest cerebral cortex and mass of all the species great and small.
How can one reasonably explain the most well endowed of all the creatures as the weakest and least likely to survive, or certainly if not unlikely, between our own efforts to kill ourselves with nuclear winter, cigarettes or toxins of blood borne pathogens, and where is the reasoning that supports the apparent fact of the smartest being, in the end, the dumbest, the least likely to succeed, the most likely to fail, and if all of that is even reasonably true, how does this relate to our congress and some fundamental biological failure or weakness for which neither Darwin nor god had pre engineered or planned.
Surprisingly, in the very lexicon of our daily language is the answer and it is as simple as shocking, and curiously reparable.
Quorum sensing, a delicate and nearly inscrutable art, though some would argue science, is both the process and ability to speak and to hear, to articulate, enunciate and to act, all actions we understand and isolated, not even difficult for the neonate human, but to do so in concert, to do so as it serves the commonwealth, the colony the group is the operative word and key to the process of sensing the mood, state, aspiration, need or fact of the quorum and setting aside one’s own idiosyncratic agenda, subordinating the individual will to the collective, a two step dance, first listening, and then, on cue, falling in line, joining in, signing up, becoming a part of or party to, all attributes we lack today, describes at once the success of bacteria enjoy and the atrocity of the paralysis seen in Washington.
Bacteria control their own pathogenicity. We unfortunately and increasingly as humans, do not. And Pathogenicity for those of us more familiar with English is simply the act to enact the scope or terms of our collective wishes and get what we want.
This is a fact and is proven by the current science of biology which can show, empirically, with radiology, laserscopic inquiry or microscopic veracity individual units of what collectively are deadly bacteria live in and amongst us all, always.
Holding that thought, let us remember that pathogenicity is a scientists fancy word for saying, ‘I want what I want and when I am ready, I will get it’.
Saving pennies as it takes dollars to make a purchase, collecting neighbors to remove a tree or raise a barn roof as one alone may not be so endowed, raising armies to destroy or conquer villainous neighbors and or simply, as in our colonial past, to take what they have because we want what they got, is an act of pathogenicity, an act affirmative in the outcome of getting the conqueror what they want at the cost of the conquered.
Bacteria do this when they infect a body, turn dead stuff into mushrooms, infest living cells into unallied bodies and humans do this when they wreak their will upon another, a group, a cow to slaughter, a field of wheat to the scythe for bread, or the living forest into two by fours.
Pathogenicity is something we have done all of our lives, and is no more or less than the strong surviving as they get what they want, and are smart enough to do it effectively and typically in groups.
Pathogenicity may be the scourge of aids, but too it may be the havoc and ruin made by the United States in Iraq or the salvation of Europe from the scourge of Hitler’s virulence, again, all contingent upon whether you are the victor or the vanquished.
So the real question is, how is it that bacteria so often get what they want, can affect their pathogenicity when they want, and we Americans, big brained and thick headed are so stuck in the mud.
Bacteria have a universal healthcare, since they know, by direct and chemical communication their best chance of a meal, of a vanquishment, of a growth spurt is when they act in common and only when they are of sufficient number to so act.
Bacteria speak, carefully assessing the circumstances of their environment and collectively make the very astute and almost always successful judgment about when their numbers are sufficient to win, to become the pathogen to which their lives are dedicated, to prevail in the biological outcome for which they were born.
Humans, increasingly, and at least in this country or ours, have no such origination and or luck.
It is no mistake bacteria are ubiquitous but only act in concert and as circumstances dictate so to insure a satisfactory outcome.
It is a mistake however that humans, in our country increasingly do not possess this complex skill and indeed, more than acting alone, they seem, if we take the acts and or omissions of congress as artifact, they affirmatively do not want to act together.
It even appears as if there is a biological mistake in evolutionary selection when one watches the actions of our congress since as all know it takes action in unison to move the flock of birds, produce sufficient toxins for a bacteria, survive in an unwilling host and thrive, or pass legislation that is for the common good, we have lost the natural selection of bettering ourselves and indeed seem to be bent, willy nilly on a path of self destruction, a pathogenicity, like the lemmings and Neanderthal that ultimately provides the basis for our decline, for our failure, for our not having the collective will or strength of will to act together, in a colony and be of a pathogenic threshold of strength so to feed our young, prevent the overrun of bacteria in our food or water supplies and in general live a peaceful, healthy and harmonious life.
Quorum sensing, the words that describe how millions or trillions or just hundreds of bacteria know, of each other and of their readiness to act, organize and move or kill or infect or get lunch, is a sensory feedback critical to the colonial movement and assemblage of disparate populations, and our governmental employees, the worker bees to whom we have entrusted the pathogenicity of our wants and needs which seems, unwittingly too have fallen prey to a viral infection, a colony collapse disorder, preventing them from hearing or reading or sensing the signals of a common readiness to act, and as a result are paralyzed, and as a result the body politic may die.
If the quorum sensing mechanisms of the body politic cannot work, if they malfunction so, metaphorically, if the heart cells didn’t know they were not to be eye or foot cells and all are trying to be brain cells or sex cells, then clearly the whole body is deaf to its needs and at risk of death (the anarchy of cellular quorum sensing) and a certain decline.
Curiously, and most improbably, the anti-dote for our human inability to sense and reply to the quorums dictate is not nearly as complex as the increasingly complicated and esoteric strains required to stop the growing virulence and pathogenicity of the very smart bacterium whose lessons we have yet to learn, rather, it is the simple act and process of listening, speaking, and finally being able to act, when appropriate, together.
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7/8 lat: 78” 39’ long: 58”46’
Winds: E, NE
Skies: clear, blue
Lela is below.
If I squint my eyes I can imagine we are sailing through the Hudson Bay, in sight of Frobush point, hoping, for the first time, to make the Northwest Passage.
We have begun the adventure I have dreamed about since I was a child, since I could say the words, for three years, at least, since we bought the good ship Odysseus.
Lela is beautiful. She is as lovely as any woman I have ever known. She is a human with the natural proportion and elegant line of this ship.
Being with her makes me feel mature. Though much is uncertain, she is wise and makes me think I can be too.
Though I do not confess, I am often without direction, she is knowledgable and leaves me reassured I may be too.
It is hard to be with her though and not cognizant of her focus, her determination to do so much, to accomplish such lofty goals, to be gone for so long, so soon.
I wonder if this is too much of a liberty, too inappropriate and unlawful a taking to write such personal thought in a ships log ,the gratuitous sharing of such intimacies of one woman with the heart of another. I am compelled to speak but is this a betrayal of my fair lady, Odysseus.
I wonder if one must really be a Captain to take such a command, to execute choices, to venture new lands or if, perhaps, being a Captain is just a state of mind.
I wonder if this will all feel different when Odysseus has left the safe and predictable confines of dry-dock.
‘In the beginning,’ Claude remembered,’ it was scarcely noticeable.’
‘Like a friend’s tic , a small twitch,’ he thought,’ the mannerisms most people don’t reckon until you’re with someone for a while, there was no way to know when it was going to happen, how or with whom.’
One time, Claude was about to speak with Lela. He was thinking how close they were to some understanding, an agreement determining how they would proceed with their lives. Before he spoke aloud, she said, “You know, Claude, I’ve been thinking.”
Lela looked at him as if they were in the middle of a conversation they had begun long ago, some time before.
“I think we ought to have a baby.”
She looked at him as if there was nothing novel or extraordinary about such a revelation.
They had spoken of this undertaking more than once, more than a few times. but always resolved there was really was no answer now, no simple resolution for such a complex question and all the issues that followed.
“You won’t believe this”, Claude answered, smiling, but looking at her now,” I was just going to say that.”
She smiled too, but didn’t really know what he meant, the simple, literal truth of his meaning, the exact words that in fact he was going to say but, for some quixotic reason, didn’t.
They left the day.
They carried on and played, going about their business and continuing on, but there was a nagging and inarticulate uncertainty, a wonderment in Claude’s head .
‘Was there really anything to this mysticism,’ he thought, ‘this craziness saying people could read the thoughts of another. perceive the truth of history, know events before they happened.’ ‘Whatever it was.’ he concluded, ‘maybe I am possessed,’
‘But is that good or bad,’ Claude asked himself, knowing whatever it was, it wasn’t a quality the rest of humanity shared, knowing, at the bottom, it would only further estrange him from the succor others seemed to find in sameness.
Days later, an evening of friends gotten together, they were in the living room, speaking, telling stories, drinking wine. They laughed about the vagaries of populating the earth, what it did to the lives of others. When it happened, how lives, acts and thoughts of even strangers collided, intersected.
Claude, speaking with a class mate, thought to ask her plans for the upcoming summer.
As she spoke and her eyes glistened, he imagined a girl who had come from or was about to commence a journey to sea, to the translucent emerald waters of the Greek isles.
When she said, “You know Claude, I think I’m going to Greece for a month.”, he felt the same slack jawed, uncertain wonderment of being there or being somewhere before time and chaos had organized fortune and the future into the elements of an event.
“Its something I’ve wanted to do for years and there is a chance now, I think, which I might not get for a little while again.
“Celia,” Claude said,” You won’t believe this but I was just going to say that.”
Celia looked at him without understanding and continued on.
“I mean don’t you think it would be cool. Have you ever been there.”
Claude watched her speak and smiled. He laughed quietly marvelling at how curious life was, how paradox lived everywhere.
The gathering concluded, guests took their good-byes, Claude shook hands, said goodnight, nodded sleepily to the deportees but thought all the while,’ I can’t wait to get in to bed with Lela.’
“You know,” he confessed as they finished their ablutions, stripped off their cloths and raced to get under the cool drawn sheets,” I just can’t speak anymore.”
“I don’t know,” Claude confessed,” I just don’t know how it all works.”
Lela curled next to him, her head snugged into the crook of his shoulder.
While the words of the evening repeated themselves over and again, while Claude played and replayed the conversations trying to see if he’d heard anything he hadn’t already known, he grew increasingly bewildered, anxious.
Less certain he had heard words he hadn’t already figured or whose meaning, by the look of the speakers eye or language of their body, he already knew, he wondered what was presience or forwarning, insight from a sixth and unnatural sense.
He pulled the gently sleeping Lela into him.
He pulled her warm and gently breathing body to his own trying to feel the life between them, the difference between himself and her.
He traced the outline of her skin and tummy seeing with his hand, feeling with his senses, where she began, where he ended.
He knew, incohately, he lacked integrity. He did not have the certainty that somehow he hadn’t come confused with the rest of the world, that like leaves in an old forest, he wouldn’t join the detritus of the forest floor and, as ashes turn to ashes, he would become indistinguishable and turn, inevitably and like everything, to dust.
7/8 Malard’s Bay Lat 78’39 Lon 58’46
Winds W, SW, Barometer falling, Seas Calm
Varnishing rail, le’ward poop.
Odysseus lat:78’39 long:58’46
7/10 winds W, SW. calm
There is weather coming off the ocean. I have been working here every chance I get. This ship is more and more like home. It is hard to know sometimes what I have done, what is still undone what is the right thing next to do. Wood and tools, sand paper and glue, varnish and paint, it all seems so simple, done a thousand times since the dawn of man, but somehow still the most majestic act, the loftiest undertaking I can imagine. Strangers who come upon her, see the changes, have a glimmer of how she looked when first she sat bedraggled and unclaimed in her stanchions, maybe like me when Lela and I first met.
Each, the girl I knew, her sleepy child, and this ship, babes whose interests and needs command my attention grow increasingly, like seeds.
In a peculier way I am so proud to have this ship a child like the one Lela will someday bear.
I am proud to have a child to nurse and grow, to nurture and raise. In a way, I am able to be some of the person I so admire in her. Curious though, for in the doing, what she does, as what I do will, in the end, take us oceans apart.