Watching the Excellent Documentary Why are we here I was very much taken by the interview with Mathematical Biologist. Martin Andreas Nowak (born April 7, 1965) is the Professor of Biology and Mathematics and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University.
Consequently, when my attention was drawn, later on, to the relations between Darwinism and Sociology, I could agree with none of the works and pamphlets that had been written upon this important subject. They all endeavoured to prove that Man, owing to his higher intelligence and knowledge, may mitigate the harshness of the struggle for life between men; but they all recognized at the same time that the struggle for the means of existence, of every animal against all its congeners, and of every man against all other men, was “a law of Nature.” This view, however, I could not accept, because I was persuaded that to admit a pitiless inner war for life within each species, and to see in that war a condition of progress, was to admit something which not only had not yet been proved, but also lacked confirmation from direct observation.
After having discussed the importance of mutual aid in various classes of animals, I was evidently bound to discuss the importance of the same factor in the evolution of Man. This was the more necessary as there are a number of evolutionists who may not refuse to admit the importance of mutual aid among animals, but who, like Herbert Spencer, will refuse to admit it for Man. For primitive Man — they maintain — war of each against all was the law of life. In how far this assertion, which has been too willingly repeated, without sufficient criticism, since the times of Hobbes, is supported by what we know about the early phases of human development, is discussed in the chapters given to the Savages and the Barbarians.
Of works dealing with nearly the same subject, which have been published since the publication of my articles on Mutual Aid among Animals, I must mention The Lowell Lectures on the Ascent of Man, by Henry Drummond (London, 1894), and The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct, by A. Sutherland (London, 1898). Both are constructed chiefly on the lines taken in Büchner’s Love, and in the second work the parental and familial feeling as the sole influence at work in the development of the moral feelings has been dealt with at some length. A third work dealing with man and written on similar lines is The Principles of Sociology, by Prof. F.A. Giddings, the first edition of which was published in 1896 at New York and London, and the leading ideas of which were sketched by the author in a pamphlet in 1894. I must leave, however, to literary critics the task of discussing the points of contact, resemblance, or divergence between these works and mine.
As to the sudden industrial progress which has been achieved during our own century, and which is usually ascribed to the triumph of individualism and competition, it certainly has a much deeper origin than that. Once the great discoveries of the fifteenth century were made, especially that of the pressure of the atmosphere, supported by a series of advances in natural philosophy — and they were made under the medieval city organization, — once these discoveries were made, the invention of the steam-motor, and all the revolution which the conquest of a new power implied, had necessarily to follow. If the medieval cities had lived to bring their discoveries to that point, the ethical consequences of the revolution effected by steam might have been different; but the same revolution in technics and science would have inevitably taken place. It remains, indeed, an open question whether the general decay of industries which followed the ruin of the free cities, and was especially noticeable in the first part of the eighteenth century, did not considerably retard the appearance of the steam-engine as well as the consequent revolution in arts. When we consider the astounding rapidity of industrial progress from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries — in weaving, working of metals, architecture and navigation, and ponder over the scientific discoveries which that industrial progress led to at the end of the fifteenth century — we must ask ourselves whether mankind was not delayed in its taking full advantage of these conquests when a general depression of arts and industries took place in Europe after the decay of medieval civilization.
With regard to the above-mentioned work by E. Martin-Saint-Léon, let me add that it contains very valuable information concerning the organization of the trades in Paris — as it appears from the Livre des métiers of Boileau — and a good summary of information relative to the Communes of different parts of France, with all bibliographical indications. It must, however, be remembered that Paris was a “Royal city” (like Moscow, or Westminster), and that consequently the free medieval-city institutions have never attained there the development which they have attained in free cities. Far from representing “the picture of a typical corporation,” the corporations of Paris, “born and developed under the direct tutorship of royalty,” for this very same cause (which the author considers a cause of superiority , while it was a cause of inferiority — he himself fully shows in different parts of his work how the interference of the imperial power in Rome, and of the royal power in France, destroyed and paralyzed the life of the craft-guilds) could never attain the wonderful growth and influence upon all the life of the city which they did attain in North-Eastern France, at Lyons, Montpellier, Nimes, etc., or in the free cities of Italy, Flanders, Germany, and so on.
Taken together I find these arguments very persuasive with respect to models of Political Economy and the notion of Market systems within which Symbiosis is as important as Competition. As with all things we find success and progress where we find a balance and pragmatic thinking and not dogmatic ideological boundaries.
I wrote an essay when I watched the introductory Films the Why are we here? Series, it was more around the philosophical ideas and beliefs which I have cleaved to and hewn from my own readings writings and listenings these past 52 years on this Good and beautiful earth.
CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE: ´´In order to reason well …. it is absolutely necessary to possess … such virtuesas intellectual honesty and sincerity and a real love of truth (2.82). The cause [of the success of scientificinquirers] has been that the motive which has carried them to the laboratory and the field has been a craving to know how things really were … (1-34).[Genuine inquiry consists I in the diligent inquiry into truth for truth’s sake(1.44), … in actually drawing the bow upon truth with intentness in the eye, with energy in the arm (1.235). [When] it is no longer the reasoning which determines what the conclusion shall be, but … the conclusion which determines what the reasoning shall be … this is sham reasoning…. The effect of this shamming is that men come to look upon reasoning as mainly decorative…´´. http://web.ncf.ca/ag659/308/Peirce-Rorty-Haack.pdfPierces seminal essay How to make our ideas clear is also a great starting off point for embracing such truth as we might be fortunate enough to encounter in our allotted time on this blue marble suspended in eternity.http://www.peirce.org/writings/p119.html
“Three modes of evolution have thus been brought before us: evolution by fortuitous variation, evolution by mechanical necessity, and evolution by creative love. We may term them tychastic evolution, or tychasm, anancastic evolution, or anancasm, and agapasticevolution, or agapasm. The doctrines which represent these as severally of principal importance we may term tychasticism, anancasticism,and agapasticism. On the other hand the mere propositions that absolute chance, mechanical necessity, and the law of love are severally operative in the cosmos may receive the names of tychism, anancism, and agapism.” — C. S. Peirce, 1893
With respect to Political Economy we might consult Peter Kropotkin’s other master piece, The Conquest of Bread.
Ways and Means
The evil of the present system is therefore not that the “surplus-value” of production goes to the capitalist, as Rodbertus and Marx said, thus narrowing the Socialist conception and the general view of the capitalist system; the surplus-value itself is but a consequence of deeper causes. The evil lies in the possibility of a surplus-value existing, instead of a simple surplus not consumed by each generation; for, that a surplus-value should exist, means that men, women, and children are compelled by hunger to sell their labour for a small part of what this labour produces, and, above all, of what their labour is capable of producing. But this evil will last as long as the instruments of production belong to a few. As long as men are compelled to pay tribute to property holders for the right of cultivating land or putting machinery into action, and the property holder is free to produce what bids fair to bring him in the greatest profits, rather than the greatest amount of useful commodities–well-being can only be temporarily guaranteed to a very few, and is only to be bought by the poverty of a section of society. It is not sufficient to distribute the profits realized by a trade in equal parts, if at the same time thousands of other workers are exploited. It is a case of PRODUCING THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF GOODS NECESSARY TO THE WELL-BEING OF ALL, WITH THE LEAST POSSIBLE WASTE OF HUMAN ENERGY.
Kropotkin proposes his own solutions and Bakunin and Proudhon both bear close study as well.
Kropotkin’s entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica regarding Proudhon’s proposed Monetary system without Usury, is as good a summary of the remedy of poverty begot by Henry Georges Progress.
”Now Proudhon advocated a society without government and
used the word Anarchy to describe it. Proudhon repudiated,
as is known, all schemes of Communism, according to which
mankind would be driven into communistic monasteries or
barracks, as also all the schemes of state or state-aided Socialism
which were advocated by Louis Blanc and the Collectivists. When
he proclaimed in his first memoir on property that ” Property
is theft,” he meant only property in its present, Roman-law,
sense of ” right of use and abuse ” ; in property-rights, on the other
hand, understood in the limited sense of possession, he saw the
best protection against the encroachments of the state. At the
same time, he did not want violently to dispossess the present
owners of land, dwelling-houses, mines, factories and so on. He
preferred to attain the same end by rendering capital incapable
of earning interest; and this he proposed to obtain by means of
a national bank, based on the mutual confidence of all those who
are engaged in production, who would agree to exchange among
themselves their produces at cost-value, by means of labour-cheques
Every one representing the hours of labour required to produce
every given commodity. Under such a system, which Proudhon
described as ” Mutuellisme,” all the exchanges of services would be
strictly equivalent. Besides, such a bank would be enabled to
lend money without interest, levying only something like 1 %,
or even less, for covering the cost of adminisEveryone
being thus enabled to borrow the money that would be required
to buy a house, nobody would agree to pay any more a yearly
rent for the use of it. A general ” social liquidation ” would
thus be rendered easy, without violent expropriation. The same
applied to mines, railways, factories and so on. ”