The collapse of the “HUMANITY” project. Chapter 5. “WHAT IS PROGRESS?”
Do you recall it? A boy with Biblical eyes asked this question addressing writer Victor Banev, the character from the Strugatsy Brothers’ The Ugly Swans.
“Progress is the society’s movement to the condition when people neither kill, nor trample down, nor torture each other,” Banev answered.
As you can see, it was a good, right, intelligent answer by a humanist. But…
“And what are they doing then?” a fat boy asked from the right.
“They drink and eat after it quantum satis,” someone murmured from the left.
“And why not?” Victor said. “The history of mankind does not know many epochs when people could drink and eat quantum satis. Progress for me is movement to the condition when people are not trampled down and not murdered. And what they will do is not so important to my mind.”
Now we’re living in Banev’s utopia coming true. They do not trample down and do not kill in many countries of the world. Though understanding inevitability of the end of civilization coming soon is typical for any intellectual – it’s easy to be convinced of that if you look at the book shelves in any book shop. But life-support systems are still functioning in most big cities, aircrafts are still flying, resorts are still open, tourist holiday hotels are still full. You can still safely drink a cup of coffee in a street café in numerous cities of the world. So, is this progress?
If you remember, young characters from The Ugly Swans did not agree with that:
“That’s exactly the case. This future is fairly acceptable for you and your characters, and it’s a burial ground for us. A dead-end. …And no matter how you want it, Mr. Banev, but you demonstrated in your books… not the object to apply efforts to, but you showed us that there are no objects in humanity to apply our efforts to… You have eaten yourself, please, forgive us, but you’ve spent yourself on civil strife, telling lies and fighting lies that you are engaged in, thinking up new lies… You can’t believe that you’re already dead, that you yourselves have created the world with your own hands that has become a gravestone for you… You blamed the government and the rules as if you don’t know that your generation simply does not deserve a better government and better rule. They struck you in the face, please, forgive us, but you said stubbornly that a man is kind by nature… And something worse – ‘Man! That has a proud sound!’ And who they were whom you called men?!..”
Research and development
SO, WHAT IS PROGRESS?
If progress in technology is surely possible, it is easy to watch and even possible to extrapolate for forecasting the future, progress in social relations is not so unambiguous. We are sooner watching the progress of political technologies in social relations. Politicians transferred from addressing the mind to addressing emotions, instrumental leaders were replaced with emotional leaders, truth stropped being the truth and turned into information bringing about the most powerful emotional response. Had progress in the society been possible, we could say that progressive ideas (e.g. Maslow’s hierarchy of deeds, he presents development of human needs from filling one’s belly to self-actualization) are destined to win, and our task is just to accelerate process that will inevitably lead to limitation of material needs, and they being reduced, in their turn, will lower pressure on the environment and so on – and as a result, the environment will stop degrading. But Maslow acknowledged that no more than 2% of people will attain the self-actualization stage… And that means that the overwhelming majority of mankind will just want to increase consumption of material benefits – increase both quantitatively and qualitatively… And if you tell them that people have already destroyed half of our globe, they will answer you in the best case that “there will be enough for us till we die”.
Why is progress impossible in intellectual and moral fields of life? Why is mankind doomed to again and again repeat old lessons? Why does not extinction of some nations serve as a stimulus for changing the system of values of others?
The answer to that was given by Ivan Yefremov ( Soviet paleontologist, philosopher, science fiction writer), who invented his philosophical notion the “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow”. He introduced it in his social science fiction novel The Bull’s Hour. A character of the novel describes this “arrow”, to be more exact, the law of the society’s development as follows: “We use the term of the Ahriya mainyus’ arrow for the trend of the society with morally heavy noosphere to multiply evil and sorrow. Each action that is humane at least from the outside turns into a disaster for individuals, groups and the whole mankind. The idea declaring good has a trend to bring more and more evil while being brought into life, it becomes harmful. The lower-type society can’t do without lies. Purposeful lie also creates its demons distorting everything: the past, to be more exact the idea of it, the present – in actions, and the future – in results of these actions. Lie is the main disaster, corroding humanity, honest strivings and bright dreams”.
Yefremov presented some kind of the humanitarian second law of thermodynamics. We can see examples of a good action turning into its opposite in the history of religions. In the context of the discussion, we have already presented the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a not bad idea that led to the opposite consequences. And in this chapter we reminded you how the humanistic Victor Banev’s “Progress formula” led to its opposite.
Our world is fully subjected to the law of the “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow”. Any good and kind action will bring about many bad consequences, and their impact will overweigh the planned benefit. We have already given examples of such “good” deeds above like planting trees and receiving refugees.
We can find similar thoughts in Semyon Frank’s (Russian philosopher, who was born in Russia, expelled from the Soviet Union with some other intellectuals, lived in Germany, France and the UK) The Collapse of Idols: “If we look at the whole life of mankind from this point of view, we’ll have to see a paradoxical but clearly evident fact (its evidence is intensified for us even more if we pay attention to the tyranny of ideas, principles and ideals in private life of individuals): all sorrow and evil reigning on the Earth, all streams of blood spilt and tears shed, all disasters, humiliations, sufferings are at least 99% the result of will to do good, fanatical belief in some sacred principles that should be immediately established on the Earth, and will to ruthlessly exterminate evil. And only one hundredth of evil and disasters is brought about by the impact of outwardly evil, directly criminal and self-interested will.”
In order to get rid of the “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow” power, it is necessary at first to acknowledge that most people on the globe can’t adequately percept reality – it’s not so important if that happens because of excessive serotonin caused by the place of their residence, or reluctance to see threats for themselves, or because of the Stockholm syndrome in relation to the world. And if they see the world as it is, that may destroy them as Pelevin’s (modern Russian fiction writer) adepts of the Striving to Make Sure sect (“The purpose of their spiritual practice is to percept human life as it really is by hard thinking and selfless devotion to the cause. Some of those devotees manage to do that; they are called ‘the convinced’. It’s easy to recognize them by regularly uttered wild cries”.)
What is the secret, understanding which is incompatible with the life of most people on our Earth and without understanding which progress is impossible as the way to continue the life of mankind?
A HUMAN IS NOT “THE CROWN OF CREATION”
Here it is: the evolution of humankind is not over yet. It goes on, and now new branches are being formed on the common tree of humanity, new features are developed, brain’s capabilities are renewed… All of us are still half-finished products, and not the crown of creation.
We know what evolution is – mostly, this is achieving the goal by trial and error. And 99.9% of trials are discarded and become blind branches of evolution. This took place for millions years when humankind was formed and shaped. Many branches of humanoids found themselves in evolutionary dead-end and died. Now, it’s our turn… Those who will replace us in the process of evolution will call themselves differently. The coming environmental civilization crisis will serve as a tool for discarding branches not needed by evolution, like thousands of crises and catastrophes did before it.
Do you want to know what the world should be? Find those who were born with the “categorical imperative” inside them among the people of your circle, i.e. with innate understanding of what is good and what is evil. They are the prototype of the future, already non-human civilization. Civilization free from the need to do evil all the time in order to stay alive. Civilization that most likely will not originate…
Sure, all of us know what is good and what is evil. We know. But we don’t understand. Most of us find out about morals in the course of training and social adaptation, from religious authorities, parents or teachers.
Lack of understanding the difference between the good and the evil by the majority of the global population is not secret knowledge and not new knowledge. In any case, Marcus Aurelius wrote exactly about different “breeds” of people (Alone with Yourself): “You should tell yourself in the morning: Today, I’ll have to run across obtrusive, ungrateful, arrogant, treacherous, jealous, unsociable people. These features come from their unknowing what is good and what is evil. And I who have cognized the wonderful nature of the good and the shameful nature of the evil, understand the nature of those who are mistaken. They are my kin not by blood or origin but by god’s will and mind. I’m protected from their evil by knowledge. They can’t engage me into anything shameful. But I should not be angry or hate my in either. We are created for joint activities like hands and legs, eyelids, the upper and the lowers jaws. Because of that opposing each other is contrary to nature; and to be annoyed and keep away from such people means opposing them”.
“UGLY SWANS”, “LYUDENS”, “ARTINS”…
There is a hypothesis (I’m not sure if it is convincing), according to which it is possible that there are already those who will inherit the Earth living somewhere on it, the ugly swans of our time. They are not people, they are more likely lyudens if we use the term of the Strugatsky Brothers. Those whose descendants one day will reach the Omega Point… (According to Teilhard de Chardin, in the course of evolution, the state of mind [consciousness] is steadily developing, and material forms are becoming more complex in parallel. The result of that development is origination and evolving of noosphere and after that generation of some higher mind out of the synergy of the human minds’ aggregate – the Omega.)
I do not believe in this hypothesis because I do not believe in evolution of human species. It seems that evolution will choose another way – creation of artificial intelligence and origination of computer and biomorph synthesis – “artin” (or iskin with the word coming from the Russian words for “artificial intelligence”).
What humans or artins that will come to replace them, will have to get rid of in the process of further evolution? What brought humanity to the current crisis state? And the main question uniting the two previous ones, is: why is homo sapiens behaving like a common animal?
Because he is an animal in many aspects. Humanity on the whole and every individual separately can’t exist without destroying nature and killing live creatures as any consumer of the highest order.
However, in the course of civilization development, humankind worked out a number of moral systems, in the overwhelming majority of which it is said: everything bringing death is evil, everything serving to prolong life is beneficial (A. Schweitzer). People often acknowledge that killing live creatures is contrary to moral standards, and human existence like life on the planet Earth in general are based on killing and destruction that are still considered “necessary” as they serve to prolong live. But bringing death to ones for life of others is surely evil. Refusal to understand any killing as evil leads to justifying any crime. The practice of humanity’s existence is amoral. But that was always understood by only a few – I don’t know if they were the chosen or the doomed. Those with innate morals. That is, the categorical imperative, the moral law inside us that so surprised Immanuel Kant. It is not present in every individual’s consciousness. If you don’t believe it – ask people around you, how many of them are ready to acknowledge that the everyday practice of humanity’s existence is amoral?
Every Christian read the Gospel According to St. John and the First Epistle General of John, everyone remembers the lines: “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15), “Now is the time for judgment on this world” (John 12:31)… So what? The image of the world under the rule of “the prince of this world” as St. John calls Satan, in which any of your actions brings evil no matter how much you want not to believe in that, has no impact on actions of 99% of people. On the contrary, they happily repeat quotations from the Holy Scripture: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:28). But they forget that in Genesis, from which these words are quoted, the land of Eden is meant (if you do not believe me – look yourself, it is written below that God even provided the population of Eden with vegetarian food: “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:29-30).
Yes, it’s possible that it was like that in the beginning: wolves ate grass in Eden, and lions and sheep lay close-by but then the situation changed, there was the Fall (we’ll come back to its real meaning later), and Adam and Eve with the surrounding them birds, animals and snakes were exiled to the Earth. And here God said nothing about the Earth being given to people to own and rule! On the contrary, He said exactly the opposite and using the language of some Federal Penitentiary Service instruction: “To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you’ll give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:16-19)
“WE LIVE IN HELL…”
As you see, wise people always understood that the Earth was far from the best place. Andrey Sinyavsky (Russian writer, dissident, political prisoner, emigrant who died in Paris) said once: “Everything simplifies if we acknowledge that we live in hell”… It’s left to find out why in the world full of sufferings and torments, there are so many cheerful, “positive”, breeding non-stop idiots, whom, as it turns out, are fairly enough to destroy the world. Is the man really the creature loving sufferings?
Probably, that’s a particular case of the law of the “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow”. The area, which at first sight seems a piece of paradise, becomes a lure for migrants from areas with a more severe climate. They breed there, increasing exploitation of the area more than it’s possible to allow and turn the area into a geopathogenic, decelerating development location. Then the area is desertificated, and people leave it. That took place over the whole history of mankind and goes on now.
The main source of area’s geopathogenic character is the Sun. Dialectically, it’s perfectly clear why the source of life turns into the source of degradation and death (it is not without purpose that novices in Egypt when they were initiated to become high priests were whispered the great secret into their ears: “Osiris is an evil god”). In order to understand how it takes place, we’ll review some examples of desertification in chapter 8. But now we’ll turn our attention to fiction.
There were many writers who presented southern (brought about by excessive solar radiation) types of characters. One of the first to raise the issue was Alphonse Daudet in his undying Tartarin of Tarascon. Falsity, too much enthusiasm, impulsiveness, nonobligatoriness of which southerners are usually blamed, are explained by him as follows:
“There are no liars in the South – either in Marseille, or Nîmes, or Toulouse, or Tarascon. A southerner does not lie – he is just mistaken or misled. He does not always tell the truth, but he himself believes what he says… His lie is not a lie, it’s a kind of illusion…
“Yes, illusion!.. And in order to be convinced in that, go south – you’ll see yourself. You’ll see a wonderland, where the Sun changes everything and enlarges. You’ll see Provence hills not higher than Montmartre but they will seem giant to you, and the ancient temple in Nîmes – this interior item – is possible to take for the Notre-Dame de Paris. You’ll see… Ah, if there is a liar in the south, there is only one – and that’s the Sun!.. It increases everything it touches!.. What was Sparta in the time of its prime? Just an ordinary settlement. What about Athens? In best case – a provincial town… And they are pictured in history like two giant cities. That’s what the Sun made of them…”
Unfortunately, the “southern mentality” is not always just a reason for jokes. We can read Daudet further: “…every Sunday morning Tarasconians are armed and they go outside the city: they carry backpacks, they carry rifles on their shoulders, dogs are barking, ferrets are howling, there are trumpet and hunting horns sounds. That’s a magnificent spectacle… Unfortunately, there is no more game, absolutely no more game. Beasts, though they are beasts, finally became cautious. You understand. Five miles around Tarascon all holes are empty, all nests are left by the birds. Not a single ouzel, not a single quail. They’d like at least one small rabbit, at least one little whinchat.”
It’s wonderful to be warmed by gentle Sun rays for fifteen days of your vacation. The Sun helps excretion of serotonin, its lack is the reason of depression… Here the Sun is a healer. It’s another thing if your ancestors lived under its rays for 2,000 years… Serotonin as well as some other amino acids, secreted by southern nations under the impact of the Sun, not only boost spirits, making people cheerful and joyful. They also play the role of a kind of controller – they decide which signal to let into the brain and which not. Serotonin as well as endorphins and no matter how strange it may sound, testosterone, if they are excessive, not only deform people (e.g. excessive testosterone leads to men’s mammary gland fattening), they do not give an opportunity to assess the surrounding world adequately either.
The southerners perceive the world like people who consciously took or injected opiates in their bodies. But they, in contrast to drug addicts, are not guilty because they can’t perceive the world around them adequately. Yes, for example, they don’t see that their children’s behaviour should be corrected because they are hyperactive, referring that to their “southern temperament”, not understanding that it will be difficult for a child to live in future if he is not treated now and his hyperactivity is not corrected. Yes, they sincerely don’t see hydrocephaly symptoms and spine problems in each second child in the south, they don’t see puffed thyroid glands and don’t pay attention to regular children’s complaints on headaches, waving them away as “that’s because of growing up, it will go away in time”.
In the same way people mutageneously affected by the Sun do not understand the amoral character of being. On the contrary, they get pleasure from living in hell on the Earth, they want this life to go on and sincerely want to put more descendants into this hell – let them rejoice.
PRINCE GAUTAMA AS THE HERO OF OUR TIMES
However, approximately a half of the population to the south of the fortieth parallel shares exactly the opposite system of values – Buddhism and its versions declaring exit from “hell on the Earth” as the purpose of life. So, we see that it is possible to overcome even the most powerful impact of the Sun and perceive the world adequately.
We’ll remind you the history of Prince Gautama who became Buddha. He left his beautiful palace and saw four horrible facts of life that made him think about this life and as a result create the absolute and irreproachable system of running from it. Actually, all world religions are plans for running away from this concentration camp – or at least an attempt to be paroled.
What did this Prince see? A leper, a poor old man, a funeral procession… And, most important but about which many people forget, – he saw hundreds of people who take their own and others’ diseases, old age, poverty, death absolutely calmly as if it should be so… And the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding unseen among them, and they live as if nothing is happening and, most important, they give birth to children as “food” for these Horsemen…
Now, in order to understand the roots of modern environmental Fascism encompassing the world, let’s imagine a man from our times, a “positive” common man in place of Gautama. Knowing that those who are ill should be treated, he would have sent his court doctor to the leper – and that doctor, though leprosy is an incurable disease, would have relieved sufferings of the sick man. The Prince would have invited the old beggar to his palace, fed him, offered tea, he would have been disinfected to help him get rid of insects, given new clothes and offered to sit down, play chess and speak about life in general. The high priest would have explained to the Prince what death was – it turns out that the dead leave for the most important journey in their lives. And people mourning the dead – well, that’s traditional. Our character would not pay attention to the crowd of common people, he himself is like them. He would return to the palace and dedicate several years of his life to creation of a philosophical system, ideas, spiritual practices and physical exercises helping people to enjoy life in the real world surrounding them.
The sick obligatory get well in this system, and if they die, death is not frightening because it’s not the end but the beginning of the road. Old age may be attractive, this is “silver age”, the time of wise talks with younger people. Poverty can be dealt with by giving out collected taxes in the form of “universal basic income” to every subject of the kingdom. Pain can be relieved by meditation. And if the world still seems imperfect to someone, he only has to change the perception focus, turning his personal prism like kaleidoscope, through which he looks at the world, because really this world is just a product of personal perception, and it’s impossible to percept it adequately being its part…
As you see, there is only one step to Fascism from here, from rejecting reality of evil and good.
Fascism – no matter if it is red, black, brown or green – is based exactly on rejection of the absolute good and evil. The good and the evil become dependent on class morals, requirements of religion, traditions, national special features, interests of race or revolution…
It could seem attractive to acknowledge the ambivalence of the good and the evil. But this is first of all a threat to the life of individual adopting such an idea.
You understand nearly at once – no matter how you change “the reality perception focus”, everything related to maintaining physical existence is nevertheless evil because the higher consumer lives at the expense of killing lower consumers in the food pyramid. And that means that you just won’t manage to live and not bring death and evil to the world. As a consequence of that you’ll not only live shamelessly, not like you wanted, not doing good but bringing evil, and sooner or later you’ll be killed as well – either by people, or microorganisms, or your own body.
Happiness in this world is attainable only by scoundrels or fools; an individual living according to his conscience is always burdened by sorrows of others no matter if he lives in a wonderful palace – and the story of Prince Gautama demonstrates that very clearly…
Today’s Fascism is not torchlight processions (Fackelzug) and concentration camps. It’s not even trolling on the social networks. Fascism today is apotheosis of simplifying. Such as a man of our times would have “simplified” Prince Gautama’s spiritual experience.
Actual fascists are clean, healthy and well-groomed; any mother would like such a partner for her son or daughter. They are fans of the healthy way of life, volunteer work and vegetarianism – because that is a simple way to rise above the crowd. They like high-tech – because this is the simplest way to look modern. They are for migration and mixing nations – because this is the easiest way to increase tension in the society. They are not afraid of “left” opposition, because the “left” are also real masters to simplify everything.
Their real supporters are positively inclined individuals wishing to get the maximum number of pleasant sensations from life and not wishing to know that all of them were paid for by blood of others and death of thousands of live creatures.
Their future armies are myriads of residents of the so-called third world thinking themselves offended, wishing to get their part of the globe, ready to kill, take away and divide the world anew, only to feel themselves in place of characters from advertizing videos.
The future Fascism is neither white nor Arian. It is multi-coloured and global. It’s everywhere – in smartphones, on social networks, advertizing videos, supermarkets. Its servants are those who make us consume, work and live in order to rest in intervals between work…
Understanding the amoral character of individual’s physical body existence as pertaining to his moral principles is practically as old as the present civilization. But it was never dominant and was always the domain of the most moral, “advanced” representatives of humanity.
Death is inevitable in this world, consequently the process of life based on death of other living creatures, inevitably ends by death of those using these creatures.
Entropy on the Earth always increases, consequently any human action, even with the purpose to protect nature and life, has a negative effect, expressed in indirect destruction of nature and death of live creatures. And aggregate consequences of this negative effect are more considerable than forecasted positive consequences. A particular case of this consequence is: disposal of recyclable materials does not reduce the amount of garbage but increases it, though in a different form. A subsidiary conclusion from the said above: the only effective way of environmental protection is inactivity (e.g. refusal from procreation, etc.), and it’s a priori impossible for all representatives of humanity though supported by the authority of Lao Tzu.
But we’re watching the process that as it seems is contrary to increase of entropy, the way from the complex to the simple – the evolution process of life on the whole and making the nervous tissue more complex in particular. Is it really an anti-entropic process?
Anti-entropic phenomena of matter, nervous system, brain tissue, signal systems of human mind, etc. becoming more complex and leading to origination of the modern human intelligence, only seem anti-entropic as they have a local anti-entropic effect but in case of a long period of time they only increase entropy, and we’re watching that studying human history. A giant dinosaur ate less than a small, weak man consumes now. Really, humanity is a tool for accelerating entropic processes many times. You have probably guessed why nature needs it and if not, I’ll remind you that new life is born out of death. But understanding that we, killing and destroying, act according to laws of nature, does not free us from responsibility for killings and destructions. In our time, we’ll also become victims of killers – people, bacteria, elements, it is not so important as to whom. We want to avoid responsibility for mass killings but we don’t want to change our behaviour.
Processes required for humanity’s existence and leading to destruction of nature and killing live creatures are amoral, consequently, inevitable death of humanity and/or civilization is not an absolute evil as destruction of an amoral system cannot be evil.
Here we come back to what we started this chapter with – the Strugatsky Brothers’ genius insight. They said through their goodie: “There are no objects in humanity for applying force.” Humans as morals carriers in beasts’ shell should make way for the next species by the evolution laws, and extinction of humanity can’t be avoided by any “minor renovations”, diplomacy or total enlightenment.
Hypothetically, intelligence can exist based on a carrier not included in the food pyramid and consequently without moral contradiction according to Kant – Schweitzer (e.g. intelligent life can exist as energy fields). Consequently, theoretically intelligence can be free from perception of one’s existence as contrary to Kant’s “categorical imperative”.
Increase of entropy in the Universe is not contrary to intelligence development outside protein carriers as an infinitely complex and infinitely big, one whole information field is created in the course of chaos development in the Universe. It is generated by infinite variety of elementary particles. The carriers of information in this field are elementary particles not having a moment in time and consequently existing (for them) eternally (it can be called the Omega system if we use Teilhard de Chardin’s term). Intelligence originates in the process of overcoming the threshold of any system’s complication.
Death of humanity is inevitable but it’s not a tragedy as humanity fairly understands amoral practice of its existence and acknowledges (in the persons of its spiritual leaders – prophets and philosophers) inevitability and logic of its extinction, which is certified by eschatology of practically all world religions. Extrapolating all events in nature and taking into account that the vector of these entropic processes is one-directional, we can forecast that modern civilization will die in the historically close to us period.
Does it mean that we’ll leave the Earth without performing our task? By the way, what is it? Let’s again refer to Teilhard de Chardin.
According to him, we’ll agree to perform the task assigned to us – to move noogenesis forward – only on one condition: for our efforts to have chances to succeed and lead us as far as possible. A beast can rush head first at breakneck speed to a dead-end or precipice. A man will never make a single step in the direction which, as he knows, has no prospects. That’s exactly the ailment that bothers us… What is required as minimum for the way in front of us to be called open? Only one thing – but that’s everything. For us to be provided a place and opportunities for self-realization, i.e. progressing (directly or indirectly, individually or collectively) reveal ourselves to the maximum.
Another dead-end, this time the dead-end of the lack of meaning. Exactly that the current generation of Earth inhabitants is deprived of. In any case, Earth inhabitants who can think, who are carriers of the categorical imperative and able to move forward. There are few of them but exactly they developed civilization in all ages, “moving noogenesis forward”. The rest, the majority of ninety nine percent, will never understand why everything ended and what those eggheads need. It could seem that it is still possible to enjoy tasty food, sun rays, gentle women, still support their teams at stadiums, dance, read, talk all nights through with friends, sing, write poems, travel… But comprehension that everything will end in nothing and what is more, this end is just in all fairness deprives those, on whom continuation of civilization depends, of all prospects…
It seems that we have gotten a grasp of what progress is and in which direction evolution should go. But here is the question: are we sure that evolution will manage this time? Isn’t it better to take the fate of humanity in our hands? We have such possibilities and we’ll be able to create an intelligent creature free from the need to kill in our laboratories.
Currently, the top of gene therapy is CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats). DNA sequences that are currently the basis of CRISPR-Cas9 technology can theoretically change human DNA forever.
In 2017, gene engineering decisively shot forward – after the team from the Beijing Proteome Research Center announced that they had successfully used CRISPR-Cas9 to eliminate pathogenic mutations in viable human embryos. Another team from the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Center for Medical Research and Innovation) in London took the opposite way and for the first time used this technology for intentional creation of mutations in human embryos. In particular, they “switched off” the gene assisting embryos transformation in blastocycts. Research demonstrated that the CRISPR-Cas9 technology works – and fairly successfully. However, that brought about active ethic debates as to how far it is possible to go in using this technology. Theoretically it can lead to “designer children” that will have intellectual, sports and physical features in accordance with characteristics set forth by their parents. And in future – to creatures not needing to be fed by killed creatures, not needing domination and expansion for self-respect, not wishing to press and trample on anyone for pleasure. It is only required to attach a quantum computer to this creature, creation of which is expected in the next decade… And that’s all, artificial intelligence takes upon itself the function of the “top species”.
Sure, the method similar to forcing our way into Heaven… But what is left for us to do? To sit by the Golden Gate in Jerusalem and wait for a man from Nazareth riding on a lame white donkey?
So, what is progress? How will I answer this question asked by the “boy with Biblical eyes”? That’s how…
Ecology teaches us that everything in the live world is subjected to the law of the food pyramid. Everything is arranged hierarchically. The higher beasts of prey eat the lower herbivorous animals, and in their turn they become food for bacteria. The lower provide food for the higher, otherwise, reproducing non-stop, they start getting ill and dying because of their excessive numbers.
People think that social structure protects them from biological laws. But this is a delusion. Humans are also biological creatures, and they have to eat, dominate when fighting for females, not let anyone in their personal life space, to put it differently – be strong at the personal level and not only social level. This is surely disgusting. But unfortunately, either you, your family, your tribe, etc. are masters subjugating others by force or money, or you, your family, your tribe are subjugated by others. There is no third option in this (human) world.
So, we can’t help “trampling” on others, i.e. we can’t refuse from domination. But we can’t help “killing” either – if not humans then animals, plants, ecosystem on the whole. Otherwise we’ll quickly die ourselves.
In order to attain the world, in which no one is trampled or killed, it is first of all necessary to put an end to humanity.
You can say that Banev meant social relations only. O.K., let it be so – we have already now built the world in which football fans can jump like fleas from one continent to the other after their team, and whores can go to southern resorts to make money, not afraid of anything – but it seems to us that this should not be viewed as civilization achievements. Because the achievement will be, for example, the society with no people stuck on the lowest steps of the Maslow pyramid, interested in sport games, no women without dignity, no resorts, may be for very ill people only, there will be no keyed up, impulsive, hyperactive, senseless south… But unfortunately, human experience shows that it is impossible to attain such a state of affairs with available “biological material”.
It is possible to be employed by aliens; it is possible to move to another country. The law of the food pyramid stays unchanged, just the notions of “our” and “alien” will get a new meaning.
Is it possible to live absolutely free from referring to all communities? That’s still an unattainable dream. Even if you tear ties with your relatives and acquaintances, refuse from any citizenship, move to the other side of the world, live like a hermit, your gender and your being a human will still govern and control your behaviour… Freedom from determination of individual behaviour by these references is the nearest target for human development as it seems to us. And now it is closer than it seems. Now, it is often already easier for us to communicate with computers than live people. We stopped being afraid of an alien look of a person we’re dealing with. Psychologically we’re already ready for origination of new artificial intelligent beings, not included in the food pyramid, free from the necessity to kill in order to live, not tied by domineering issues, not being citizens of any states, not dragging the burden of national cultures, customs and traditions, not tied to land, able to live in the ocean or space… And it seems that such creatures have actually been created already…
THE MYTH OF PROGRESS
Our time is the time of unrestrained myth creation. Myths penetrate practically any field of human knowledge. There are historical myths, political myths, social, biological, medical…
In particular, there is a myth of progress that naturally states that really there is no progress. That is, there is surely purely technological progress but there is no trace of moral, social progress. Like before, humans stay morally deaf, the society does not strive for raising to a higher ethic level, the amount of evil in the world increases, and the “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow” as Yuri Shevchuk says after Ivan Yefremov, threatens to pierce the heart of our civilization.
That exactly is a myth.
Moral progress is as evident as technological progress.
Let’s recall, for example, that still not far back historically, about 200-300 years ago, murder was a matter of valour. A man who killed more than others deserved respect. And today murder is flatly and vehemently criticized, condemned and blamed, and many countries already banned capital punishment.
War was recently also considered valorous. Nikolay Gogol, describing the Zaporozhian Cossack Army, wrote that there were people assembled “who had a noble conviction that it does not matter where you wage war, it’s important only to wage war as it is indecent for a noble man to live with no battles”. War was looked at exactly like a noble deed. It was the same even in the “enlightened” 19th century. Look: the United States conquered half of Mexico where the today’s south-western states were set up: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Texas… At the same time, European powers quickly expanded their colonies in Africa and in the East, ruthlessly enslaving local population. Russia annexed giant territories in Middle Asia with ancient cities of Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara. And most of these wars were purely expansive: the one who was stronger took giant regions under control.
It was a civilization norm.
And now wars are also flatly and vehemently criticized, condemned and blamed. And what is more, people are trying to localize them by common efforts and totally stop, though surely they are not always successful in that.
It seemed to me that progress is evident.
By the way, A.P. Nazaretyan speaks about an interesting fact in his book on civilization crises. Computer development allowed to calculate numbers of victims of armed conflicts in foreseeable history, surely, the figures are only approximate. So, it turned out that “when destructive force of weapons and population density grew progressively, the percentage of armed conflict victims did not increase over millennia. By all accounts it even slowly and unstably decreased, fluctuating between 5% and 1% per century”.
This was indirectly confirmed by Australian ethnographers who compared wars waged by today’s primitive tribes and World War II. The percentage of losses in both cases was comparable.
So, in my opinion, the myth of social (moral) progress stop is just a myth. Moral limitations are strengthening and are rather successful in restraining contemporary aggression.
The “Ahriya mainyus’ arrow” sounds beautifully but it flies off the target.
As for human transformation, this process is really becoming necessary and urgent. A contemporary man in the way he exists falls behind the increasing complexity of both technological sphere and social sphere. Hence continuous crisis aggravation.
At the same time, human modernization does not require eugenics at the gene level as the author thinks. There are gentler methods.
Actually, when Moses, according to the legend, wandered in the desert for forty years with the Israelites, it was, if we use the analytical language, a completely comprehended and purpose-oriented ethnic and social planning. A certain ethnic community was singled out: the Israelites in captivity, later it was completely isolated from influences by other ethnic and cultural communities (taken to desert), then there was selection according to age: they wandered for forty years, carriers of old, heathen tradition were gone. And finally, a new nation was formed based on the commandments brought by the Prophet from Mount Sinai, and based on a principally new ethic canon. And that nation came to the Land of Promise.
In our times, a good example of quick and effective ethnic and cultural transformation is Germans. They experienced the following metamorphoses in just one hundred years, from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century: Michael (“potato German” as Germans were called in Europe then) – Bismarck German (during the period of German nation-state origination) – Kaiser German (period of World War I) – Arian German (Fascist period) and finally today’s German (approximately from the second half of the 20th century).
And no interference at the gene level.
Only the will of the global community is required for ethnic and cultural transformation of nations, for bringing their consciousness to the respective environmental level.
However, the today’s global community has no such will.