In the most recent issue of Science, biologist Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico offers research that suggests not only what many integral thinkers already understand in a broader sense, but indeed what set Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin apart from the crowd way back in the Nineteenth Century:  that social conditions play a role in our individual evolution and may be responsible, over time, for developments in consciousness such as the advent of human altruism.  From the UK Independent:

Samuel Bowles, of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, said: “Warfare was sufficiently common and lethal among our ancestors to favour the evolution of what I call parochial altruism, a predisposition to be co-operative towards group members and hostile towards outsiders.

“Biologists and economists have doubted that a genetic predisposition to behave altruistically – to help others at a cost to oneself – could evolve, excepting the help extended to close genetic relatives.”

In his study, published in the journal Science, Dr Bowles takes on the proponents of the selfish-gene theory of human evolution by suggesting that natural selection worked on groups of people co-operating together, rather than just individuals.

(snip)

Ruth Mace, an anthropologist at University College London, said Dr Bowles’ study went against the accepted idea of the selfish-gene theory which long ago rejected the proposal that natural selection worked at the level of the group rather than the individual.

“Recent literature on social evolution has reopened the debate, arguing that in some circumstances group selection might be important, especially in a cultural species like humans,” she said.

What was that?  Hard-wired to cooperate?  Mark that as a point for socialism and real (left) libertarianism and one difficult blow for capitalism.  

People aren’t greedy by nature folks- we’re greedy because of want and social dis-order.  The absurd notion of a social species which by nature is anti-social (individually greedy to the detriment of the larger group) is poppy-cock.  And now science is making its way around to reiterating what Peter Kropotkin already observed and wrote about around 150 years ago.


Advertisements