[This piece has been drafted to serve as an initial piece to introduce the “Fateful Step” series soon to be presented on the Daily Kos website.]
Over the past decade, I’ve posted hundreds of essays here on Daily Kos XXXX . Almost all of them have dealt with the crisis in American politics unfolding in our times, most of those articles getting into detailed particulars concerning the state of the ongoing political battle.
Now, I am about to offer here something of a very different kind, and of a very different scope.
In a series titled “The Fateful Step,” I’m going to offer an “integrative vision” of the human story, a way of understanding what has happened to our species and of the nature of the challenges must meet – all as a consequence of our being the species on this planet that embarked on the path of civilization.
It presents an explanation of the saga of the civilization-creating creature that puts some vital matters into an importantly different light. Vital matters like
- How we understand what kind of creatures we humans are.
- How we understand why our history has been as it has. And
- How we understand the nature of the challenges that we face.
This explanation puts all these into a light that’s “importantly different” because – and this has been my conviction since I saw the first big piece of this “integrative vision” a half century ago — this understanding could have a beneficial impact on humankind’s ability to meet its Central Challenge: to order our civilization well enough – and soon enough – for human civilization to survive for the long haul rather than culminate in self-destruction.
(I realize that claim of “beneficial impact” on so large-scale an outcome sounds implausible, and therefore grandiose. And to those who are understandably skeptical, I ask only this: Please don’t come to any conclusion about the validity of that claim without first checking it out.)
That long-standing conviction about the potential “beneficial impact” combines with my belief that it’s a toss-up whether, in the coming generations, human civilization will get its act together or culminate in catastrophe, to impel me to do all I can to convey that understanding.
If it’s a toss-up — whether it will be Thrive or Die — any “beneficial impact” might make a difference. Which is why I feel driven to to make every effort to get a potentially beneficial understanding of humankind’s situation out into the world, where it might do some good.
And, now that I am 76 years old, there has come a new sense of urgency. For in my estimation, while part Amazon.com: The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution: 9780791424209: Schmookler, Andrew Bard: Books of this “integrative vision” is out there well enough to be available to a plausible human future, it seems quite possible that – as things stand now – major parts that could be beneficial might “die” with me. Squandered. Not an outcome I’m willing to accept.
Useful for America’s Present Political War (Between Democracy and Fascism)
What brings most people to Daily Kos is the immediate political battle. Not this kind of Big Picture view of a Better Human Story.
But that dichotomy is misleading. Far from being a distraction from the immediate challenges, the perspective offered in this Big Picture can help clarify the nature of the forces contending for control of America’s destiny, the contours of the political battlefield, and how that battle can be most effectively fought.
This integrative framework for understanding the forces at work in the human world alerted me – back in the 90s, and then more fully starting in 2004 – to the destructive force that has hijacked Conservative America.
And it provides a way of understanding why and how America descended into so dark a place that the very survival of American democracy is in jeopardy—in a struggle that can reasonably described as “The Battle Between Democracy and Fascism.”
To those focused on defeating this dangerous thing the Republican Party has become, I suggest that checking out this series as like warriors attending War College, potentially useful for political warriors on the side of Democracy.
Would You Want to Know If These Things Were True?
The people who should read this series are those who would want to know things like the following, if they were true:
Any creature, on any planet, anywhere in the cosmos, that takes the step onto the path to civilization, will inevitably get swept up – regardless of that creature’s nature — into the same social evolutionary process that has made the course of human civilization as destructive and tormented – as ugly — as it has been.
(Pretty well proved here. “The Ugliness We See in Human History is Not Human Nature Writ Large” (3QD-2) – A Better Human Story
From which it follows:
The ugliness we see in human history is not human nature writ large.
(The tight argument for which is laid out in six steps here “The Ugliness We See in Human History is Not Human Nature Writ Large” (3QD-2) – A Better Human Story)
Those two propositions are true because of the inevitable consequences of a creature – humans on earth, or any creature which may have done so elsewhere — embarking on the path of civilization. (With “Civilization” defined as “those societies created by a creature that has extricated itself from the niche in which it evolved biologically by inventing its own way of life.”)
Central among those “inevitable consequences” is the emergence of a destructive systemic force.
The rise of civilization, in other words, inevitably generates “a coherent Force that consistently works to make the human world worse” (or as “consistently spreads a pattern of brokenness”).
That force could be called a Force of Brokenness, or a Destructive Force. But a force that meets that description could also reasonably be called, “A Force of Evil.”
The reality of such a Force – which can be discerned through examining the web of connections among causes and effects – is shown in the third piece of the series, here. The Discernible Reality of a ‘Force of Evil’” (3QD-3) – A Better Human Story
But the consequences go beyond the inevitable emergence of a destructive force.
It can be shown that
The creature that takes the path of civilization – being caught between two evolutionary forces (the biological force that crafted its inherent nature, and a social evolutionary force that arises out of the system unchosen by that creature – will inevitably have at the heart of its story a dynamic that can reasonably be called “A Battle Between Good and Evil.”
This is laid out in the series entry titled, “How Civilization Inevitably Gives Rise to a ‘Battle Between Good and Evil.” How Civilization Inevitably Gives Rise to a “Battle between Good and Evil” (3QD-4) – A Better Human Story
That battle relates to what was referred to above as the Central Challenge facing humankind, namely:
Whether we will be able to order our civilization well enough – and soon enough – to prevent human civilization from culminating in self-destruction.
Because of the inevitable dynamics at work in any civilization, that “Central Challenge,” will inevitably confront any creature anywhere that embarks on the bath of civilization.
The reasons why that is inevitably true are presented in the first entry in the series, “The Fate of Human Civilization.” The Fate of Human Civilization (3QD-1) – A Better Human Story
The current crisis in America – “The Battle Between Democracy and Fascism,” The Battle Between Democracy and Fascism (3QD-7) – A Better Human Story which has arisen from the transformation of the Republican Party from a normal American Party into a “Pure Case of the Consistently Destructive Actor What’s Revealed by the “Pure Case” of the Consistently Destructive Actor – A Better Human Story – is perhaps best understood in that context.
The evolutionary perspective also reveals that
Two dimensions, now generally shortchanged in the secular worldview — The Dimension of Value and the Realm of Spiritual Experience — must be recognized as Real, Valid, Important, and Life-Serving.
This is demonstrated in the fifth entry of the series, here. Realities that Emerge with the Evolution of the Experiential Realm (3QD-5) – A Better Human Story
With the survival both of American democracy and of human civilization itself now visibly threatened, there is an urgency about recognizing the nature of the forces at work in the human world.
The coming series is my best effort at contributing to that understanding. I claim that I can establish the basic validity of all those foregoing points. And if you are someone who would want to know such things – if they were true – I encourage you to check it out.