Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Class Warfare in the Era of Conscious Evolution

In the classic novel The Time Machine, H.G. Wells envisioned a future in which humans had diverged into two distinct species:  the Eloi and Morlocks.  The Eloi were a species of great beauty but intellectual simplicity.  They spent their lives in a lighthearted stupor, laughing and dancing the days away without a concern for anything beyond the superficial pleasures of today.  The Morlocks, in contrast, were creatures of necessity.  They lived in dark subterranean dwellings, and lacked any of the positive traits – such as love and compassion – that we attribute to humans today.

Wells described the means through which the two species had come into being.  Essentially, the Eloi were descendants of an aristocratic elite, who through countless generations of easy, comfortable living had devolved into mindless – albeit attractive – creatures of superficial comforts.  The Morlocks had descended from the working classes of today, after generations of malnutrition, hard labor, and dismal living conditions.

The parallels between Wells’s vision of the future and the world we see today are striking.  Clearly, there is a large – and growing – divide between the wealthy elite of today and the ordinary, working and middle class masses.  The wealthy of today lead lives of leisure and luxury, while those at the bottom work dreadfully long hours and consume extremely unhealthy food, devoid of needed vitamins and nutrients.  Having spent some years in the trenches of the working class myself, I know all too well how desperate life can be.

A general axiom is that the harder one works, the less one gets paid.  I have spent hundreds – thousands – of hours working in low-wage, unskilled jobs, seeing all the while those in management – and above – casually standing around.  Today, having the luxury of a college degree, I spend perhaps 12 hours per week in a classroom, yet earn more than I ever did putting in 60 to 100 hour weeks as a bona fide member of the American working class.  With so much of my time devoted to meaningless, robotic labor, my health suffered.  Earning a lower wage, I chose to eat less healthy foods, and was so exhausted after a day’s work I rarely exercised.  Being forever classified as a “part-time” or “temporary” worker, I lacked access to medical care.  Meanwhile, those at the top were spending perhaps a few hours at the office before hitting the golf course.

Given such drastic differences between these social classes, it is inevitable that changes will occur over time.  So as I was reading The Time Machine over the last few days (an absolute classic), I couldn’t help but remember Noam Chomsky’s reference (in Understanding Power) to a new subspecies of human found in northern Brazil:

 Centuries of protein-deficient diets and chronic illness have resulted in more than 30 percent of the population in northern Brazil being mentally and physically stunted, according to medical experts and government officials. Even in more prosperous southern Brazil, about 10 percent of the population is of subnormal height, researchers say.

In the most severe cases, known here as Brazilian Pygmies or homens nanicos, researchers say brain capacity is 40 percent to 60 percent below normal and the height of adult males is a foot or more under the 5-foot-9-inch average for men worldwide.

Now, I realize this is an old story (1991), and the findings have been disputed.  But it is fairly obvious that poor nutrition and horrible living conditions have an impact on health, which inevitably will be passed on through the gene pool.  Even if the so-called homens nanicos exist only as a result of malnutrition rather than an actual genetic variance, it can be assured that, given enough time, the changes in physical stature and brain capacity would become ingrained in the genetic code.  And that is a seriously disturbing realization.

Just think about it:  here we have, as a direct result of poverty and malnutrition associated with socioeconomic status, human beings that have actually devolved to have half the brain capacity of ordinary humans.  It is unquestionably the pinnacle of class warfare, and should the current state of affairs continue it is virtually guaranteed that, over time, the differences between social classes will manifest them in deeply physical ways.

Modern class warfare is, in essence, forced eugenics.  But rather than causing the undesirables to cease to exist altogether, the lower classes are instead left to intermingle and breed amongst themselves, while the aristocracy perpetuates its own independent lineage.  So what we are up against is nothing less than the forced devolution of the majority of the species.  Whether that result is intentional or not is irrelevant:  it is simply what will happen if today’s heavily unequal social order continues uninterrupted.

Humans are the only species in the history of the earth that bear the capacity to consciously shape their own evolution.  The future of humankind is not some predetermined destiny written in stone, but rather an unfinished story awaiting the pen of its author – and we are the authors.  It is by no means guaranteed that our future will be a favorable one; in fact, it is far more likely to be unfavorable, if we consider that 99.9% of all species have become extinct.

So when you struggle against the idiocy of self-professed Republicans or the sheer greed of the modern corporation, remember that you are fighting for nothing less than the future of our species.

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10 responses to “Class Warfare in the Era of Conscious Evolution

  1. Rhoda April 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Andrew,

    I agree with most of what you say, but I have to address the statement you made about the deficiency in brain capacity being introduced into the gene pool when it is a result of poor nutrition.

    Unless the poor nutrition results in genetic mutation, people who suffer from diminished capacity from malnutrition are perfectly capable of producing offspring who are within a normal range of functioning PROVIDED the offspring have access to adequate nutrition.

    I completely sympathize with the rest of the entry tho. I don’t understand why this is so difficult for workers in this country to recognize. I guess we are indoctrinated to a degree with the philosophy that the harder you work, the further you get, therefore the fact that you’re not getting anywhere must indicate you’re not working hard enough – cue the hamster wheel!

    I was involved in a conversation on this topic and Bill Gates name came up as a classic American success story. I pointed out that he had access to IBM because his mother knew someone on the Board and that Bill Gates Sr. is a partner at a very prominent law firm on the W. coast. – so yeah, a little extra access there. The other person told me “well, he still had to work hard!”

    I gave up and took my coffee back to my desk.

    • Andrew April 26, 2011 at 5:43 am

      Point taken. Over countless generations, however, the devolution would eventually become irrevocable – particularly since suboptimal prenatal care often ensures the infant is doomed even before birth.

      And yes Bill Gates is one story we always hear. People fail to realize that for every such success story – always involving some kind of connection, as you note – there are thousands of failures, regardless of the level of knowledge and skill a person might have. The days of Horatio Alger – if they ever existed – have long since passed.

  2. Rico Jansen April 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Amazingly true. Keep in mind that many of the writers of the novels such as Time Machine, Asimovs writing, even 1984 et al, were individuals with access to such creations of the elite and institutions that were already shaping power back in those times. It is not so much that they were so prescient, but that they already had a vague notion of what the desire of the elite was, dating all the way back to pre-1920’s

    • Andrew April 26, 2011 at 5:43 am

      Sure. In spite of all of our technological progress, very little has really changed at the core of human society.

  3. MichaelEdits April 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    If the rich became as the Eloi, happy in the way that cattle are happy before we eat them, that wouldn’t bother me all that much. But it probably won’t happen that way, even if Palin and Bachman are dumb enough to be cattle.

    • Andrew April 26, 2011 at 5:45 am

      I didn’t mean to imply that it would happen precisely as Wells envisioned it. But even today there is a pretty obvious visual difference between those of working and upper class backgrounds

  4. Opinyonista April 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    War of the classes happens everywhere. It has been since the start of civilization. Would our generation’s case be different?

  5. ickenittle April 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    There seems to be more sociopathic behavior now than ever before which makes me wonder if it is cultural or part of evolution. As top preditor- we have nothing preying on us as a means of population control. We seem to be preying on one another, and to do so seems socially acceptable by the social Darwins of the Republican party.
    The idea that we have reached a population threshhold and have out grown community, where empathy and shared sacrifice mean’t survival of all..seems to be breaking down,and it seems there is a new top preditor emerging whose only intention is to secure the nations resources for themselves.
    This idea is frightening.

    • Andrew April 27, 2011 at 1:02 am

      Social Darwinism is the central tenet of capitalism. You’re right, though, in pointing out how appalling it is that we have become our own predators. Simply because there are enough humans who still believe in a common interest, a few animalistic bastards have been able to exploit the system for their own selfish gain.

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