TUMBY BAY - Life on our planet is made up of complex synergies and symbiotic relationships built up over countless millennia.
Removing particular species or environmental elements from an ecological base can be catastrophic, as can adding new species or environmental elements.
Every animal is born into its own unique evolutionary niche and humans are no different. If you are a frog you are born into the distinctive world of frogs. If you are a human you are born into a distinctive human world.
Humans have a suite of capacities developed through their evolutionary past stretching right up to the present time.
As part of this process they have created and sustained particular organisational cultures which have served to shape their very humanness.
One of the signal defining aspects of the various human cultures that have evolved over time is their ability to collectively cooperate.
Humans working together for common benefit is the defining principle leading to their present sophistication and dominance.
The idea of democracy is based on this principle.
It is therefore curious to see the latest manifestations of the human evolutionary process exhibited in the so-called phenomenon of neo-liberalism, which emphasises individuality and the minimisation of organisational control through government.
As well as the structural use of deliberately created economic, racial and gender inequities.
To all intents and purposes this development seems to be antithetical to human evolutionary history.
Rather than refining the cooperative nature of human cultures neoliberalism seems to be deliberately diverging by concentrating on producing solitary lone wolf human beings engaged in a competitive struggle with each other.
Instead of enjoying the warmth of a cooperative society they are faced with a savagely competitive world where only the most ruthless survive to enjoy a quasi-happiness based on the accumulation of commodities and wealth.
What is particularly sad about this situation is that this dominant culture has become so persuasive that there is really no escape from it.
Even if you hate the world in which you live there is no alternative to it.
Survival now depends on playing the game. At a median level this may mean spending a large part of your life enduring a job you don’t particularly like while working with people you probably don’t like much either.
Henry Thoreau, the 19th century American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher, described that sort of situation as ‘quiet desperation’.
The days when you could strike out into the wilderness, like Thoreau once did, to carve out your own little niche in the world based upon your own values are now virtually gone.
Today everyone lives in a giant metaphorical cage that is inescapable.
Casting about for something that resembles Thoreau’s quiet refuge beside Walden Pond will only reveal places overrun by the forces of capitalism.
His pond in Massachusetts is now a tourist trap visited by thousands of people every year.
Even in the remotest places, such as the high valleys of Papua New Guinea or the far reaches of the Amazon River, signs of devastation wreaked by savage resource exploitation are rampant.
Nowhere is safe from capitalism’s hungry grasp. Not only is neoliberalism subverting humankind’s evolutionary path but it is also destroying the environment essential for human survival.
Those of us who were hopefully following the recent elections in the USA where, among other things, the forces of unbridled neoliberalism appeared to be losing ground to what appeared to be a saner alternative are now feeling not only exhausted but still much discomforted.
In the lull that has ensued everyone is wondering what this victory of apparent sanity actually means.
Noises from the far left tell us that the American people have simply swapped one form of neoliberalism for one with a softer voice wearing smarter clothes and that the power of the rich and powerful remains undiminished.
The return to normalcy that Joe Biden brings, these noises say, is a return to normal neoliberal-interventionist cooperation in the service of capitalist imperialism.
If this is true, it points to the futility of hoping that some sort of benign cultural change that gets our evolutionary trajectory back on track is possible.