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Is Humankind Still Evolving? (Warning...It's Another Capitalism Q)

+3 votes
Dec 19, 2017 in Politics & Government ✌ by Virginia (7,565 points)
edited Dec 19, 2017 by Virginia

Or if you don't care for the term evolution, are we capable as a species of changing for the better? As I understand more and more, imo capitalism as an economic system is just unsatisfactory. However, it really is the best so far, and if we humans cannot change for the better then we are stuck with it? 

The Pulitzer journalist I read says NO HOPE, we are stuck and there is no evidence we can evolve, the board is the play. However he spent 15 years is places like Kosovo and Gaza Strip, maybe he got discouraged?

IF something like communism/socialism will eventually work for us, there is certainly no evidence of that yet...on YouTube, I listened to an old Fifties Groucho Marx rerun of YOU BET YOUR LIFE, the simpler days in the  shadow of The New Deal...and Irving Berlin is known to have quipped, "The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl."

So we used our impressive intellect and came up with nasty stuff like nuclear weapons and Big Brother video surveillance, but can we ever accomplish the human dream of treating each other well?


3 Answers

Marianne Dec 20, 2017

Humanity has evolved, of course, but mentalities and attitudes seem to be rooted in unequal class or caste systems, in which the interests of the dominating groups are, usually, represented as the "interests of the general public" - of the "majority".

But we could talk and talk about the different (or not so different) social and cultural structures and civilisations and their classes or castes and the everlasting socioeconomic and ideological or religious conflicts and clashes between the different layers.

Some examples:

Strange - in spite of the many revolutions, wars, changes, scientific and technological progresses, improvements, and widespread "humanitarian" efforts and campaigns - all seems to drive too many more or less educated civilisations back into ancient hierarchies:


Yes, India emerged from famines, oppression and disasters in the colonial era (and former invasions), and it has grown into one of the new superpowers. But progress involves also its negative sides, and long-standing social inequalities persist, much like in most parts of this world. Additionally, the "Green Revolution" had also a significative amount of negative environmental impacts:

But that is not new to us; the shares and life burdens vary greatly, from one individual or group of individuals to the other ...

Virginia Marianne Dec 20, 2017

Marianne, I was just reading of (another) honor killing in India...a higher-caste woman married a man from the dalit (untouchable) caste, and a gang of men got together and killed the dalit, and badly injured the wife. Among this gang was the woman's father!

We humankind have a long way to go, assuming we CAN change for the better, ty for your thoughtful research.

Marianne Marianne Dec 20, 2017

You're welcome, Virginia; I have been only picking a few elements from very complex, multicultural civilisations; sadly enough, such crimes are still too frequent (and mass migration allows such crimes to spread further).

Some news:

General info - worldwide:


Actually, I would rather think that humankind - err mentality - seems to be regressing in many parts in the world.

Virginia Marianne Dec 20, 2017

Marianne, regarding your last comment about the mentality of humankind regressing in the world; I was actually pondering that possibility here in the USA. There is a general belief that President Franklin Roosevelt "saved" capitalism here, with his New Deal policies. Well what the New Deal did was to transfer wealth and power away from the wealthy classes, toward the middle class and working class.

He did that because he felt that greed had caused the Great Depression, and he tried to protect us from another huge depression. And it worked. However, it was only forty years or so before the wealthy "upper classes" began to dismantle the New Deal in earnest...and the result was ANOTHER depression, 2007-2008.

That looks to me like another example of the regression you mention! 

Marianne Marianne Dec 22, 2017

Yes, Virginia, I noted that many "economical adjustment programmes" failed, and probably because the biggest (or wealthiest) interests, resp. their "multinational" corporations and cartels undermined them and caused an increasing number of small and middle-sized enterprises to fail.

But the whole story is by far more complex, and crime organisations could/can destabilise entire regions and even countries:

Virginia Marianne Dec 25, 2017

Marianne, I had never encountered the term "capital strike" before! The example was interesting, Ayn Rand's book ATLAS SHRUGGED, which I read fairly recently now...the whole premise of your comment is interesting, and a bit scary too; partly because I always assumed the US had a certain immunity to such possibilities and destabilizations, and now I see it does NOT!

Marianne Marianne Dec 25, 2017

Yes, Virginia, we heard about certain "revelations" not only from the historical past, but also from literature, news and records, including what people around us were saying, supposing - or "whispering" - though it was often long to find facts and reliable sources.

Sadly enough, big trade or interest associations, clans or groups were and are always more or less opaque.

And people tend to forget that influent trade and business sectors were and are too often linked to dubious, unfair, criminal sources or practices and corrupt governments.

Take, for instance, two examples from colonialism and neocolonialism:


Virginia Marianne Dec 25, 2017

Marianne, that East India link is informative; I learned it received its charter from Queen Elizabeth I, on December 31, 1600! And then, "...By 1803, at the height of its rule in India, the British East India company had a private army of about 260,000—twice the size of the British Army."

In my capitalism explorations, I had assumed this impinging-semi-ownership of a nation's government was unique to the USA, but clearly not so! And, the United Fruit Company is now Chiquita Bananas (among other interests)...I had not known of their existence, you are a wonderful reservoir of information and understanding!

Now I will try to open the last link, but wanted to get this posted first in case my computer freezes...I picked this image up somewhere, it seems apropos somehow...


Marianne Marianne Dec 27, 2017

Oh yes. Virginia, too many "new" systems were not so new, and much wealth was built on the "misfortune" of others.

Virginia Marianne Dec 27, 2017

Well Marianne, imho that same old song business-as-usual is starting to get a bit tired!

Marianne Marianne Dec 27, 2017

Lol, Virginia - yes, indeed, and you noticed that I have been starting to lose inspiration ...

Well, how about a chuckle with Calimero?


Virginia Marianne Dec 27, 2017

<3  :D

TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

Well, Virginia, evolution is by definition a slow process, but look how far we've come since the 15th century.

Back then, the nobility (which probably comprised no more than a very few percent of the population) routinely exploited and mistreated the peasants, serfs and slaves, both economically and physically. THAT is what the nobles were doing most of the time, not slaying dragons or rescuing princesses.


Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

O'Kay, O'Tink...very relevant comment, I thought (and enjoyed the link, I could open it!)...however, a bit of devil's advocate here...because, I might ask, how far have we REALLY come since the Middle Ages?

If you put the huge corporations as replacements for the lords of the manor, and we the working/middle classes as the serfs, peasants and slaves...granted, maybe we got a reprieve with FDR? But since then, how close a parallel right now 2017 with the feudal system? I began wondering after that eye-opening experience in Iowa, and then finding similar patterns nationwide...did we ever really leave feudalism?

* * *

btw, I am seeing hopeful signs now...lots of awareness developing (I hope), but again just for the sake of devil's advocate...because things have gotten worse than I EVER thought could happen...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

But Virginia, would you REALLY trade places with a medieval serf and think there was no significant difference? Sure, there still are many abuses and injustices today, but I would venture to say that all in all, they are not as frequent nor as intense as they were then. For example, when was there last a famine in the Western world, when the nobles got what food there was, and the peasants literally starved to death in great numbers?

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

Good points, O'Tink...n'kay, maybe we have evolved since the Middle Ages (at least a little bit). ...which would give hope that maybe we can evolve further still...however, the parallel still feels a bit too close for comfort...

btw, not fully relevant but still interesting; I read that after Britain left India, the great famines there have not recurred since!  ...and that would be 1949, wasn't it? And India is in the East, but still the famines occurred under a Western colonial system...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

Well, part of that was the Green Revolution, which occurred around that time, did it not? Farm productivity greatly increased, undoubtedly saving many millions of lives in the Third World.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 19, 2017

Interesting idea, O'Tink...I just checked the dates and the Green Revolution was the '30's through the late '60', but took effect most markedly in the late Sixties. Norman Borlaug got the Nobel Prize in 1970...

Well I am not sure now; however, what I read (which may or may not have been written by someone with an anti-imperial agenda) definitely attributed the end of famines in India to local enterprise, read capitalism, once released from the imperial power. The Green Revolution is a fascinating phenomenon, you prolly agree...credited with saving a billion lives, but (supposedly) long-range devastation as many people died later on when the ecosystems collapsed...?

* * *

There is a BEAUTIFUL building in Iowa, the former Des Moines Library beside the Des Moines River, converted to the World Food Prize Building - great homage to Borlaug, giving no recognition of this devastating Green Revolution aftermath.


TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

Yes, well, even though there were many famines in India before British rule, there can be no doubt that the British Raj did not help matters, mostly through incompetence or plain not caring enough to establish sufficient transport to get food to the famine areas.  Better planning in that regard certainly occurred after independence.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

Still you have a fine idea to consider the possible impact of the Green Revolution, I thought!

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

Yes, I think it did help.

Nowadays, there is enough food to feed the world, even though the population has more than doubled since its inception.  What famines there are, happen only because of politics and human callousness. :(

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

Other Tink, as you see I really discovered the Green Revolution in the five years I spent in Iowa...heard BOTH sides; the billion lives initially saved as well as the devastating aftermath...

Basically, one cannot dismiss the miracle of saving so many human lives, of doing one's best at the time even with terrible unforeseen consequences.

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

But haven't farm productivities stabilized by now, at much higher levels than they had 60 or 70 years ago? (I think there was a second Green Revolution)

However that may be, Malthus has not (yet) been proved right, although 7 billion humans is probably a bit too much for poor old Mother Earth, for a variety of reasons.  :(

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 20, 2017

O'Tink, I took note of reported problems after the Green Revolution without delving into the specifics...what I DO know in a general sense, because of so many farmers in my otherwise logging that...if you use chemical fertilizers, the crops are splendid for a few years; but then the soil turns rock-hard, useless. 

Also, it seems there was something about the water? The enhanced but thirsty Green productivity strains disrupted the water balance...something like that...

Anyway, what I recall (from brief look a few years back) is that the land was permanently damaged, whole communities devastated, until you actually back out of the Green stuff. Again, not fully certain of my facts, this was a perspective I took away from my time in Iowa!

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 21, 2017

Virginia, I looked up the Green Revolution in a number of places and they all agree that the net effect, despite problems with fertilizers, soil, pesticides, etc., was decidedly positive, in terms of lives saved. (Of course you can't please everybody; one source cited a complaint that the Green Revolution is what caused our current overpopulation, no doubt made by some privileged character who was himself in no danger at all of starvation.)

This National Geographic article is quite typical.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 21, 2017

Yay! My laptop can still open National Geographic! However, O'Tink, I have many concerns about the information therein...too many to really list...but maybe I can give a general concept, developed from my own timberland of SW Washington...and that is, we humankind have such immense intellect to make all sorts of changes - but we don't have the wisdom to ensure that over the long haul, the changes are improvements. Here is one example, concerning genetically engineered corn, from the NG article (my emphasis):

'...documented an unsettling trend: Corn rootworms are evolving resistance to the bacterial toxins in Bt corn. “I was surprised when I saw the data, because I knew what it meant—that this technology was starting to fail,” says Aaron Gassmann, an entomologist at Iowa State University...'

The article even mentions some winners of the World Food Prize (that beautiful building in Iowa)...well, because of my timber homeland experience, I have my own set of criteria I look for...and actually, with the National Geographic renowned efforts for presenting many sides, I found my criteria in this article but tucked away...and not favorable to another Green Revolution...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 22, 2017

Yes, you make good points, Virginia, and the entomologist was right about the bugs developing resistance (much as certain microbes are developing resistance to antibiotics), but the idea is for humankind to try to stay ahead of this kind of natural evolution, which of course will not stop.

So maybe, over the span of centuries, our efforts will not be able to stave off a catastrophic drop in the human population, but in the meantime, it can't reasonably be denied that many lives were saved.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 25, 2017

O'Tink, yes I think that must be the bottom billion lives saved, at least in the short term...we (i.e., Norman Borlaug and company) did our best, and now we keep learning...

I recently watched a documentary about Ishi, the last of the Yahi tribe in California, who came out of hiding around 1909, I think it was...apparently, one of his recorded comments was about the white man who has intelligence, but not wisdom...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

Hi, Virginia.   I think much has been made of stable nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes having made wise accommodations with Nature, but to a large extent, I think it was a matter of necessity, given the technology available to them.

As a counter-example, what happened when the Mongols of 800 years ago developed innovative weapons and military tactics?  They set out to conquer the world, and weren't very kind (or wise) about how they did it.

I think something similar happened when the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe:  it made European colonialism expand as fast and as far as it could.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

O'Tink, over the years I have given some contemplation to the points you raise...would an accurate summary be that so-called "wisdom" is expressed ONLY so long as a civilization does not have the means (i.e., weapons/technology) for exploitation and plunder?

ima guess there is more to it...that certain cultures can (and have) develop(ed) a greater maturity than the norm of humankind...there's a Jungian psychologist Robert Johnson who makes an interesting correlation of the maturity of a society with the stage of womanhood they honor most. The three stages being maiden, mother and crone...

Well, much of Western civilization idealizes the maiden; Native American cultures tend to honor the mother most, and some of them even the crone. European civilizations have a very persistent idea that technology denotes maturity...however I tend to go with Robert Johnson here...I think there is a wholesome maturity that happened with some/many North American indigenous cultures.

idk, I am changing my ideas all the time, these are just some current ones...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

Well, Virginia, I haven't looked at all Native American tribes, but I think there is a fairly strong direct correlation between technology and brutality, for example, between the Meso-American tribes, or the Incas in South America.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

O'Tink, just for clarification...did you really mean inverse? Or are you speculating more of a direct correlation? 

Definitely moving away from brutality could be considered a sign of a culture maturing, whereas ever more sophisticated technology does not seem to be a good indicator of a maturing society?

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

No, you're right, Virginia, I meant to say direct correlation. I went back and corrected it. :O :blush:

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 26, 2017

O'Tink, in any case your comment opens intriguing some point, one might wonder if the technologic advances simply facilitate/expedite our brutality, or if hi-tech might even impede our evolution toward kinder hearts? 

I will look forward to further exchange of ideas in the future, and now I am even thinking of posting another Q along those lines...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Dec 27, 2017

I think the brutality shows up most when one side has the technological advantage.

Like in the movie 2001, when the advanced ape touches the monolith and discovers that a femur can be used as a club, what does he do?  Shows his friends, and they start breaking the heads of the unarmed apes.

One might argue that this is natural selection, Nature's way.

Virginia TheOtherTink Dec 27, 2017

I do recall seeing 2001 in 1968, in San Francisco...and indeed, as the decades proceed that turns out to be a movie where one comprehends more of the subtleties...

Rooster Dec 19, 2017

Some great stuff here to read and very interesting. I believe we will evolve again in the future! Sooner or later, mankind must bond together and keep our world from turning into a cinder. Highly doubtful in our lifetimes but my thoughts are that some great catastrophe will bring the world together on an equal basis. I can't count how many books I've read that predict this. In fact I'm reading one now!

As far as governmental changes? Again, not in our lifetime. I'll take what we have over communism any day. Same with Fascism.

It's going to take a really big event for us to change and I don't see it in the near future but I do believe we will evolve.

In this book? Mankind has come together as one to fight a common foe. It would almost take something like this to snap the people out of their droll lives and progress to the future. Better government will follow along with World Peace. If we survive!


Virginia Rooster Dec 19, 2017

THAT is an intriguing possibility, Rooster...that we humankind would come together against a common threat!

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