FOOTBALL, DEMOCRACY & DARWIN
The DNA of Racism
© Guy Herman 2012 All Right Reserved
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’.