Charles Darwin

From Salthe’s “Darwin and some leading ideas of contemporary Western culture.”

(and here is the link to Salthe’s website via Dave, good reading and ideas here.)

I conclude with thoughts concerning why one might be concerned today about these relations. Darwin’s natural selection idea can be summed up as — ‘whatever succeeds is good’, ‘success is its own reward’ – success here meaning short-term success

. As such, it is hardly a ‘theory’! — except when it gets detailed by theneoDarwinians into a principle that competition is the source of success. Evolutionary psychologists point out that cooperation has evolved in many species, but that is because it succeeds –against non-cooperators in the same species. Importantly, this is not only a leading idea / belief of our culture, but when readinto biological evolution — the process which produced us — it becomes a mythological theme. The current relevance of this is that it is our capitalist economy that appears to be destroying our natural environments around the globe,and this economy is based in competition, which becomes idolized by being as well the source of we ourselves, in the neoDarwinian theory of evolution. Here a pragmatic principle tends to become sacralized, and it is in this that Darwin’s (asNietzsche would have said, ‘English shopkeeper’) concept can be said to have become dangerous to our continued cultural survival. As well, in its hectic productivity and search for energy, we could fairly interpret our economic system as earnestly pursuing the goal of universal thermodynamic equilibration, despite the fact that that condition would eliminate us all.

I’ve expressed this idea myself, that cooperation is only engaged to out-compete those that are less able to cooperate. Cooperation results in the elimination of many potential states of freedom that could have been taken by the individuals acting alone, but in cooperative unison results in even greater entropy production as energy gradients are made accessible and degraded. But are international animosities unavoidable in the competition for energy, red in Abrahms tank (tooth) and ICBM (claw)? It has been the rule in both the ecosystem and the technosystem to this point in time.


Cheshire Unit, WWI, The Somme

In order to crystallize the “cooperation” amongst nations for the purpose of consuming gradients and dissipating heat, there would need to be a gradient greater than all of the fossil fuels put together, a supernational technological organism cooperating to work upon a gradient that could satisfy the appetites of its members would have to form. With regards to the sun,  I don’t think the universe needs humans on earth to process sunlight through their machines when it is done most effectively through the conduits of the ecosystem. Although there do seem to be some inklings of a Manhattan style project to harness sunlight and also one for fusion, these have not led to a new world order, but rather provide pleasant fantasy for human’s indefatigable optimism bias. 

But as humans begin to fight over remaining fossil fuels, this will not facilitate a future evolution in technologies as occurs in the ecosystem but rather will put an end to our short-lived technological civilizations. Having failed to coalesce this unification of the world prior to fossil fuels peaking, the cooperation, as in the Eurozone, is likely to go by the wayside and give way to warfare. To bring all of these actors into cooperation requires greater wealth and energy flows than was available from fossil fuels without toxic externalities.


Ireland and England at night. You can plainly see just how extensively the cancer has spread by the light by-product of metabolic processes feeding on fossil fuels.

The steady delivery of energy from the sun provided a boundary to the development of life on earth. Atoms became molecules which became cells which became organisms, all ultimately limited in extent by the earth’s daily dosing of solar radiation. Humans became unbounded when they became systematic and have served the insatiable desires of the limbic system as they have accessed the seemingly infinite supplies of fossil fuels. Mankind became a malignant cancer and continues to this day to consume everything at the most rapid rate possible. 

Fighting for the dregs of remaining energy is counterproductive in the technological system because there won’t be another generation of conduits regardless of which nation burns the remains. It all goes away when the fuels are gone.

In addition, a freely evolving technosystem is completely incompatible with biological life on earth. How many centuries of plastic water bottles, millions upon millions of solar panels, toxic chemicals, CO2 etc. can a biological system sustain. It is already dying after only a couple of hundred years of technological growth and evolution. Big, fast growing and undisciplined malignancies have a tendency to undo their parent systems. (Disorder them so they can’t process energy and resources any longer.) Biological life will come back and fill-in some of the gaps and the new species do not need to be “intelligent”. The intelligence evolved only to produce the tools to get at the fossil fuels and devise a million different ways to burn them. Intelligence of the technological type just won’t be needed in this little part of the universe in the future.

Being a cancer feels great in the short run, but in the long run it’s not a winning strategy. Parents are having little conduits today in expectations that they will be fully employed, reducing resource and energy gradients in the future, instead of working down Cheetoh and Pepsi gradients in their basements. Stepping away from the virtual realities of their protective cocoons, they will emerge to find desolation and starvation.


Annapolis graduation – Anchors and hats away. A job you can count on in the future.