Extra-Biological Force Changes Everything
Changes in human identity and systems of managing this power have not kept pace with increases in extra-biological force. The symptoms global warming, increasing militarization, increasing disparity between the super rich and everyone else, dominance of government by corporations, and many other problems, are all related to our collective failure to develop new systems that can direct our increasing extra-biological power in a way that it is more biologically productive and less biologically destructive. <p>Development of larger social organizations, knowledge, and technology became possible due to progressively freeing human time from direct engagement with nature in the process of collecting, growing and harvesting food. In natural circumstances where cultivation of crops and domestication of animals for food and labor were most productive, more food could be produced by a unit of human labor than was required for the maintenance of a unit of human labor. From that base the European enlightenment and then the industrial revolution brought humanity into the modern era of ever escalating degrees of increasing extra-biological power. <p>It has become apparent that the most industrially developed societies operate as if the people who compose those societies are separate from, or completely independent of, the base origin of our ability to generate extra-biological force (climate, soil, plants, and animals). In the developing mythology of our modern world the idea that our survival depends on the "economy" has grown in the progressively profound vacuum of our abstraction from active cooperative involvement with nature. It is true that most people in the modern world get their food from money earned in the operation of our economy and in that sense many of us have become dependant on the economy for our survival. But this fact of life has grown to the point where it has started to obscure the underlying truth that our economy depends on nature. <p>The saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, is a short phrase that comes from a deep observation of the use of concentrated power in field of human social relationships. Our collective quest for absolute extra-biological power has lead to an experience of life that seems to imply that we are separate from and invulnerable relative to nature. In this abstraction from nature, power has corrupted our human identity at its most basic level, our relationship with nature and with each other. <p>This is a dangerous illusion. Human beings are not, and never will be, truly separate from our natural environment, or from each other. Our conscious constructive participation in the beautiful symphony of biological life has been replaced by the illusion of separate invulnerability and dependence on our own activity, reflected to us in the form of our economy. This corrupted identity is the core of our unsustainable economic activity that is causing catastrophic climate change, and most of our other social ills as well. <p>We are separate and non-separate individuals, masculine and feminine, black and white and brown and yellow, powerful and vulnerable, biological and transcendental, ideal and material. Moving beyond our corrupted identity of being a powerful competitor of nature, to a whole view of who we are, and then developing systems for directing our increasing power based on a realistic, inclusive, self identity, is key to successfully using the power we have in biologically constructive relationship to the whole natural world and each other.<p><strong>Extra-biological Power Exists Outside the Domain of Human Evolution (Evolution won't Manage it for Us) </strong><p>Extra-biological force is wholly beyond the bounds of the biological individual and therefore can not be passed via sexual reproduction to offspring then becoming part of the process of evolution of our species. This makes extra-biological power a public good passed on through cultural means. Culturally we have related to extra-biological power as if it were privately held, like the large teeth and good reflexes of an alpha male in a troop of Chimpanzees, and passed to the offspring of the well endowed. Capitalism applies the reproductive impulse to our cultural systems that manage extra-biological power and that will have to change if we are to collectively survive our creation of extra-biological power.<p>The effects of the high levels of force controlled by human society since the industrial revolution are forcing a confrontation between the biological imperative to reproduce and the survival imperative of needing to consume less of our biological environment than we can, due to the creation of extra-biological force, consume. This will force us to revision what is truly private and what is truly public. One of the big questions we will have to come to terms with is, what is the purpose of human life augmented by extra-biological force, and what role private and public accumulation of extra-biological force play in a new system not driven by the reproductive impulse of evolution.<p>The logical conclusion is that we need to develop collective culturally created and maintained ways of constraining extra-biological force to a model of use that is not individually procreative but instead is collectively generative. Many people see the need to develop new systems, the zero growth economy proposed by Herman Daly, and the books Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben, Eco-capitalism v. eco-socialism, by Saral Sarkar are clearly focused on the need for systems change in the way we collectively manage extra-biological force.<p>So what would an economic and political system that fully supports pair bonding as opposed to reinforcing alpha male primate social structure, and related to extra-biological force as a public power as opposed to a private evolutionary possession look like? Clearly the changes needed to successfully pass through this era of our history will involve more than systems and will necessarily involve changes in our collective and individual identity and our relationship to the rest of the living world.