Thesis Number: #1 (Page 2 of 7)
The Evolutionary Template
Early humans had to pay a price to escape the iron laws of nature. To release themselves from dependence on the instincts inscribed in their DNA, they had to formulate and enforce a code of conduct. Morality guided behaviour, principally by reminding individuals of what was not allowed. The moral code had to be synchronised with the laws of nature on which people continued to depend for their material subsistence. Nature remained the wisest teacher for early humans who sought to evolve into a culture-bearing species.
Evolution of the Social Galaxy
Populations that transgressed their moral codes fell into a twilight zone, marooned between nature and civil society. There, they were in a state of anarchy (not a state of nature) and easy meat for predators. There was no going back to nature. So, sooner or later, they would have to re-tread the route back to morality.
Social evolution was contingent on (1) the capacity to produce a material surplus that exceeded biological needs; and (2) the willingness to share that surplus product. Those two elements were inextricably linked, and were expressed as co-operation. Mutual help was a foundation principle of the community.
Initially, the surplus took the form of labour time and power. People gave their labour out of love within kinship-based communities, to construct increasingly complex relationships, habitations and knowledge. They gave of themselves to create the culture that differentiated them from other species.
Then, with the onset of agriculture and commercial contact with other groups, that labour surplus was transformed into symbolic forms. The Labour of Love had to be de-personalised to facilitate the up-scaling of communities into the towns that became urban civilisations. The de-personalisation of labour power was made possible by (i) creating a market economy and (ii) inventing money as tokens of the value of labour power. Converting labour power into abstract forms made it possible to accelerate innovation and co-operation.
Money made it possible for people to identify and allocate that portion of resources which represented their shared values in increasingly sophisticated ways. Originally, those resources were called by words such as “tribute”. Today, economists call it “economic rent”.
Figure 1 illustrates the primary impacts on the formation of culture and the collective consciousness. As people enriched their lives by co-operating with others, they
- deepened their perception of themselves: the psychology of self-identity
- expanded economic skills that favoured value-adding activity: shifting away from dependence on hunting/gathering
- enriched culture: elaborating social systems and relationships with the natural universe
- heightened conscious awareness of habitats: assigning symbolic value to cosmic forces represented by the landscape’s endowments.
The creative power of people fructified as the emerging social universe grew ever more complex.
Within the economy: differentiation of households as value-adding units within extended territorial networks engaged in the exchange of products and services
Within the natural environment: expanding the material opportunities by discovering and nurturing nature’s endowments
Within people’s minds: deepening self-awareness concurrent with articulation of respect for neighbours
Within culture: enriching lifestyles as a result of migration to new habitats, and new knowledge about homeland resources and personal abilities. The transformations ensured continuity within a people-centred culture and community that harmonised with nature’s homeostasis (long-run stability).
The risk of conflict over the possession of territory was constrained, and social stability secured, through the evolution of
- the language of respect (ethics of equality)
- complex customs (marriage rituals, relationship taboos)
- institutionalised practices (such as leadership based on acquired wisdom); and
- articulation of a cosmology which visualised a divine, cosmic realm.
What happens when the Labour of Love (or its monetary form) is usurped? Culture begins to wither. The boundaries between good and evil, between mine and yours, between the individual and society, are blurred. Social and natural reference points are dislocated, confusion prevails and corruption on a socially significant scale materialises. When rent is privatised, corrosive cynicism, loss of trust and rule-bending assume pandemic proportions. None of the current indices of social and individual behaviour tracks such behaviour to their source(s): for which, a Cheating Index is needed.