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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
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.