by Steve Masterson

Introduction

A modern, living dialectics is essential for social revolution. This series on Redline has now formally become the draft chapters of a book, A Living Dialectics. Indeed, for me they were so from the beginning. As such each chapter is connected as a scientific story and preparation for the next. Because of the large number of new concepts I’ve introduced – which is creepy to many traditional ‘Marxists’ – I’ve unfolded these integrated new ideas in a stepping stone and logical manner.

For example, this chapter on ‘Dynamics of human origins’ was prepared for by the previous two, ‘The Productive forces and human development’ and ‘Dialectics and praxis’. I knew that before introducing this very original and radical grasping of our origins and of precisely what made us human, I had to steep readers in Marx and especially in the processes of ‘human development’ and ‘social praxis’. Considering their vital and central role in our human evolution, I was preparing for a sensitizing to those most essential human properties that belong equally to 7 million years ago in emergence as they do today in us hopefully completing the human revolution – they belong to the same process at different stages.

Female-bonobo-carrying-two-infants-and-sticks

An upright modern bonobo mother is carrying two children and sticks. Common chimps cannot do this. The photo reminds me of a human mother today, with children clinging-on, pushing a buggy overloaded with shopping. It might seem little has changed in 7 million years – but it has!

We will now explore the anthropology of human origins and begin the science behind how human activity actually came into existence; of what made us human and still does so today – of how to discover our future in our past and through the present. We have already looked into the end phase of gatherer-hunter life and the transformation to hierarchy that began a mere 12,000 years ago in chapter-3 in the section ‘Gatherer-Hunter Life – Order then Chaos’. Now we go back 7 million years to an earlier phase, the emergence of gatherer-hunter life and human origins.

This chapter is very important to activists. Nearly everybody today believes that ‘human nature’ is very selfish, patriarchal, violent and automatically hierarchical in social structures. Politicians, the state, corporations and their military divide and rule we humans with borders, fear, wars and hate along nationalist, wealth, sexist, religious, ethnic and racial lines. The bosses’ mass media daily stuffs this nonsense down our throats. In short, the result is their enforced hierarchical and divisive uncaring way of life dominated today by greed and wars, money and profit accumulation – it’s OK to exploit the environment to earth’s destruction so long as the next day’s profit is met!

However, this inhuman way of life only began recently in opposition to our previous 7 million years of nomadic communal gatherer-hunter life where our tremendous ‘forces of humanity’ were nurtured in accumulated culture, which was hard-wired deep into us. Hierarchy began in a few parts of the world like the Middle East only 12,000 years ago and became dominant in the global population only 3-4 thousand years ago. Accumulated private ownership (theft from the community) by a few men had to be protected no matter how inhuman the methods.

As such, over time, the main two global social forces in direct opposition arose against each other. They were the forces of ‘humanity’ vs. the dominance of ‘inhumanity’ and hierarchical structures benefitting the few. This is the all-embracing conundrum facing humanity and living in this inhuman capitalist society in this period shapes the character of human relations every minute of every day. This struggle has its all-important economic expression in the class struggle imposed by the elites or ruling class. Workers and communities consciously acting together are the potential unstoppable forces of humanity – but we don’t realize it.

The main religions, despite lack of science, got it pretty close with their now well-outdated concept of ‘good and evil’. Both human and inhuman forces are nurtured into us all nowadays and in permanent conflict within each of us within and our groups and networks. We, the forces of humanity, can work pretty close with and embrace ordinary religious people, but not their institutions which nearly all work hand-in-hand with the elites and their state forces, usually giving god’s blessing to ‘their’ side in war.

It is crucial today that our human movement awakens to the power of this long 7 million years history of the growth of the forces of humanity as we are half-asleep, dominated ideologically, believing that our inhuman side is human nature, largely believing the disabling lie that ‘there is no alternative’.

In chapter-1, we began exploring how Marx used his discovery of the dialectical-cell of capitalism – the ‘single simple commodity’. In early 1859 he suddenly got the idea from the very latest scientific developments in the early cell-theory of his time – which he and Engels had both been closely following – synthesising aspects with his deep ongoing focus on the parts and their interrelations, the facts and history, of political economy – and in his eureka moment, he then knew how to begin his major work of the capital system – he stopped his note taking mid-sentence. He then unfolded his whole description of capitalism from the ‘simple single commodity’, the ‘cell’ or ‘unit’ and its most basic relations: he went from the simple to the complex, with simple practical recommendations.

However, now we are going to investigate our human origins and ‘begin’ the unfolding of something much more profound than a simple commodity. This will prepare us for the following chapter on ‘Dialectical-cells and human activity’ which will in detail use some newer discoveries in Marxism, adding some insights from myself. We will be unfolding a simple single human social act.

This chapter is in three parts. Part 1 – Our Ape Ancestor, Past and Present goes back before 7 million years ago when the transition from ape to human began and I quote the great anthropologist Richard Leakey in particular. It also investigates modern apes, especially our closest, the bonobo and chimp who are sister species, and all three of us belonged as one species over 7 million years ago. We investigate the bonobo great ape in particular, which was only recently scientifically researched, compared with the centuries-long research into the well-known common chimp. In Part 2 – Engels on Human Origins, is where I focus on Engels but also compare the genius and weaknesses of both Engels and Leakey. In Part 3 – Other Relevant Questions, we look at important scientific questions and points that need clarifying.

PART 1 – OUR APE ANCESTOR, PAST AND PRESENT

Seven million years ago – 7mya

Before we begin unfolding the dialectical-cell of human activity, the simple single social act, we first have to tell a story of how this new mode of activity came about in the first place. Now we go back 7mya, and leap into the loving arms of the peaceful and sharing, the cleverest and sexiest of bonobo-like apes, just before and after some troops of them were forced from living in the east of today’s Congo forests into the East African Great Rift Valley. Then, back in the present, our story will continue as we investigate the facts of modern ‘Bonobos vs. common chimps vs. humans’ to help us better grasp our ancestral line, as it is more than important and a hot political potato at that.

Matriarchal clans of ‘gatherer-hunter nomadic communities’ (sometimes called egalitarian primitive communism) started not at the time many mainstream anthropologists and others claim. The established anthropological view is that matriarchal and primitive nomadic gatherer-hunter life began around 1.8 mya with homo-erectus, and this process continued in modernity some 0.2 mya (200,000) with us homo-sapiens. In truth all evidence points to our origins as 7mya.

Study of bonobos today especially, and also common chimps, already show in large part a gatherer-hunter way of life in the forests as these bands hunt small animals in packs or search for food travelling in groups. The cooperative bonobos as semi bi-pedal in gait left their hands free to carry food back to share in their camps – and this growing sharing culture forced bi-pedalism onto the scene. Bonobos are everyday engrossed in sexual activity before sharing food peacefully, living a relative cooperative and matriarchal egalitarian life. Only we humans are similarly sex-obsessed in the animal world, except we are now temporarily totally sexually and emotionally screwed-up and alienated from the rich pleasure of open, free consensual sexual and social relations.

Bonobo behaviour can only be sharply contrasted with its sister species, the ‘common chimp’ of today, which is hierarchical, patriarchal, too often violent, competitive and greedy. Today, institutional academics are forced and/or willing to suppress our bonobo-like origins as they obey their career/pay masters. They present modern common chimp behaviour as our human origins and as natural, when it is the other way around. We were much more bonobo-like for nearly all our 7 million years of gatherer-hunter life. More on this later.

A REVOLUTIONARY NEW WAY OF LIFE BEGAN 7 MYA. A new mode development of existence and evolution started when some troops of semi-bipedal, clever, social and sexy apes, in the face of regional climate change (much less rain and more drought), were likely forced (by drought, fire, predators?) from the relatively easy and abundant life of the safe forests of the east Congo forests and moved east across normally impassable drought-ridden shallow rivers. They left behind the rest of their ape species which millions of years later were to divide into modern bonobos and common chimps. Our bonobo-like ancestors went into that variety; “the rich mosaic of ecological conditions” of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. (Richard Leakey, The Origin of Humankind, 1994, p14).

Leakey is probably the most famous but also most astute anthropologist to analyse human origins. On p16, he writes, “Biologists have to realize that mosaic environments of this kind, which offer many different kinds of habitat, drive revolutionary innovation … while most ape species suffered because of the environment shift one of them was blessed with a new adaptation that allowed it to survive and prosper. This was the first bipedal ape. Being bipedal clearly bestowed important survival advantages in the changing conditions.”

The “one of them [that] was blessed” was bonobo-like – but modern research wasn’t quite there when he wrote this. The need to carry food back to the troop promoted bipedality. Leakey wrote that this new variety and challenging way of life led to an “evolutionary leap”, “a burgeoning known as adaptive radiation” (p28). Leakey points to this ‘moment’ as our origins and I agree. But he never investigated this “new adaptation”, this new unique special mode of development in what became the very earliest stages of emergent human social activity as the most essential scientific aspect of the transition from ape to human. He was a few decades too early and too specialised in his work to do this. Leakey, in accord with the recent photo of the upright bonobo mother above, later timed the origins of the date of bi-pedalism in our great ape ancestors to 7.5 mya, in his ‘Origins Reconsidered’. In Leakey’s days only early research was being carried out on bonobos and little was published.

I’m arguing here that the fundamental principles of what exact processes and principles led to our special mode of development, of the earliest forms of conscious social activity, as proto-humans, began suddenly back then with this new way of communal nomadic living – the gatherer-hunter way – and I expect the claim will eventually be scientifically proven beyond doubt.

Many academic anthropologists talk about brain growth, intelligence, complex language or symbolic art as determining what is human. Brain growth however completely pre-dates complex speech and symbolic art, which many of these same scientists also, incorrectly, claim as dating us as human. What made/makes us human? Complex social activities! It was and is ever-more complex needs being met by ever-complex, agreed, social activity from which we permanently learn and accumulate culture. And we are still not fully human as a global species.

We should not judge when we started becoming human by using genetic, physical, complex linguistic or brain-size measuring rods alongside the classification system of the rest of biological developmental processes. We must use the measuring rods and tools of our specific form of human development to judge when the process of our transition from our special great apes to becoming human actually began and will end. Those rods were and are our social behaviour, our everyday cultural accumulation, our ever complex cooperative action and permanent learning – the very beginnings of conscious social activity. This new form of development still includes the genetic form of development yet it grows thousands of times faster and ever-faster in an all-sided 3-dimensional and fractal manner. Keeping this paragraph in mind is essential when I begin exploring this in the next sections when we look at bonobos and chimps.

My claim of there being 7 million years (7my) since the sudden start of human developmental processes and gatherer-hunter life will more than raise eyebrows, that is, until insight into the three basic cosmic ‘modes of development’ becomes clearer – ‘inorganic’, ‘organic’ and ‘human’ – especially the human mode. When we look at cosmic and evolutionary time-scales the human transition of 7 million years is a zone of chaos, is a drop in the ocean of evolution, a revolutionary leap. It took the first simple cell over one thousand million years to evolve from single cells/bacteria to the simplest multi-cellular bodies, like slime, algae, fungi, seaweed – our worthy ancestors – not yet even at first functioning fully as organs in themselves and further, it was a transformation merely within the mode of genetic and cellular development. Yet scientists still date organic life origins from the first simple cell at 3.8 bya. Why not do the same with human origins which also represents a completely new mode of development? The zones of chaos, the transition, which I describe in chapter-2, ‘Dialectical systems & chaos’, apply to the human transition beautifully.

But what happened to our ancestor of 7-mya, our bonobo-like ancestor who faced a sudden new challenging way of life in East Africa? Yet again from Leakey, they were living a new way of life in “a rich mosaic of ecological conditions”, which led to “drive evolutionary innovation” and led to a “novel adaptation”, to an “evolutionary leap”, to a “burgeoning known as adaptive radiation”.

Well, life was now transformed for these new nomadic foraging communities in the varying rich array of challenging ecological systems in that ‘rich mosaic’ region of the now Great Rift Valley. Life was dramatically different from their former safe abundance of the forests in the now East Congo – where the development of the cluster of pre-human qualities were ‘not forced’ into working together in a new spiral relationship. They had much more primitive spiral development processes based on genetics. These nomadic bands now had to travel far from camp for food which in time ran out in any geographical area they set camp; and in continually moving camp and with their period of rapid climate change, they faced grasslands or deserts, rich fruit and root regions, mountains, lakes, the ocean and rivers; and they now also, crucially, faced predators. To survive; concentration, focus, communications, memory, planning, and mutual trust were driven ahead by the absolute need for more complex collaborative action – this quality of social action was evermore essential in this rich relatively fast learning process. The previous genetic form of development was less than snail-like by comparison.

One minute our ancestors could be splashing and playing in river waters with an over-abundance of fresh fruit, roots and fish, and the next minute collectively fighting off a lion-pack with sticks and stones who had come to water and find prey near the river. Bi-pedalism and free hands becoming more skilled every day, more sophisticated communications and developing brain processes, more collaboration in actions and growing trust were all essential for practical everyday survival. I’m sure after battles there were festivals of eating an accidentally killed lion, but also there were deaths amongst themselves. At first it was more likely that most of the time they were scavengers for roots and fruit, and as far meat is concerned they would be competing with hyenas or vultures, eating left-overs from bigger, stronger or faster prey. Travelling through grasslands, hyper-aware, looking for danger or opportunities, or in deserts, they eventually developed a fully upright posture and as nomads they had to learn how to carry water and food, babies and toddlers, stones and the sticks which eventually became spears.

In two chapters from here I will focus on our new brain processes which form an integral part of the spiral of human development of ever-richer more complex cooperative action. But for now, what happened in the brains of our bonobo-like ancestors, the anthropoids, was that four interconnected processes and skills developed together as one – as best I can work out at present – the processes of abstraction and concretization, and of memory and forethought; which together enabled ever-more complex social activities to meet objective needs. They are all central to concept development. There was simultaneously communications development which at this stage took the form of more complex and different types of screeches, grunts, hoots, barks, body language and mimicry; all of which contained various meanings. The modern bonobo or chimp bark alone can have numerous meanings, and if food is found the particular bark describes how much food is found – calling on others to join in.

These same brain processes beginning to gel 7 mya are the same basic brain processes still developing in us today – and still it is objective need and praxis that is the driving force that proves the correctness or not of brain decisions and development. The problem is that academia and politicians largely separate thought from social action – hence today we live with the very ineffective and uncreative division between mental and manual labour that dominates capitalism and humanity. We will also investigate how in the spiral of human development, morphing sequential parts of brain activities such as perception, unspoken notions, spoken notions, concept development into theory, communication, decisions, etc, are inseparable in the spiral morphing from and into physical action and objective need and meeting that need. We will shortly return to the loving arms of our bonobo-like ancestors, but first:

EINSTEIN’S IMAGINATION: When I stress ‘imagining’ human origins or gatherer-hunter life of which we have sparse facts, Einstein, who also faced sparse facts regarding his sciences wrote, “Logic will get you from A-Z; imagination will get you everywhere … I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge, which is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

My own view on complex adaptive systems is that only with imagination can our limited facts and knowledge become creative and have a feel, intuition and a deeper science to it – and Einstein with his magical E=mc2 and ‘general relativity’ made the complex and unfathomable very simple, which is what I try my best to do but I need help. Newton’s much earlier grasp of gravity played a similar role, despite its mechanical nature. It’s all a matter of learning to develop a grasping of the interdependent, dialectical and contradictory nature of the ‘simple and complex’, of deriving the simple from the complex and vice-versa, and oscillating between the two processes, of always being factual and historic when building concepts and theorising.

When trying to grasp and feel human origins and evolution or quantum physics, we are faced with a problem. That is simply the lack of precise detailed information, direct empirical evidence, on which to fire-up our theories. We need oxygen to breathe life into these crucial scientific arenas. Einstein’s oxygen was imagination based on his vast knowledge. We are going to try do the same with human origins and unlike official anthropologists who appear and pretend to know-it-all, or they’ll not get promoted or be so well paid, we’ll be honest about the human and scientific lack of knowledge in all this. So we will first focus on knowledge and the research into modern bonobo life which is concrete, scientific and evidence based, with behavioural patterns that most obviously echo our common ape ancestor of over 7 mya. This ancient ape with bonobo-like behaviour and ways best explains the origins, evolution and the nature of modern human, chimp and bonobo behaviour, in the context of other knowledge.

Bonobos vs. chimps vs. humans

We must first understand the evolutionary tree of we humans, bonobos and the common chimp. Bonobos and chimps are two sister species known together in taxonomy (the biological classification or categorisation of organisms) as Pan-Paniscus. Indeed some mistaken geneticists and biologists believe all 3 species should be classed as one, and they would be correct from a genetic point of view – however, when we consider the changes in behaviour, ongoing learning of skills and cooperation, an altogether new and clearer picture emerges.

Beyond 7 mya we three were as one species of great ape probably covering widespread areas of the forests of central and West Africa – according to Leakey (‘Origins reconsidered’ p86) there were back then more ape species in Africa than today. Then, 7 mya a pre-human lineage broke away from our particular great ape, or rather, a number of troops were forced into a new way of life out of the forest into the environmental ‘mosaic’ of East Africa that successfully spurred on a dramatic evolutionary innovation and the growth and survival behaviours of these now desperate but increasingly adaptive creative creatures. Many of these troops may not have quickly enough adapted and perished, but a number survived and became us – the potential destroyers or liberators of planet earth from inhumanity.

And then, 3-4 mya, that great ape that never went into the Great Rift Valley, stayed in the forests and was itself divided. What is now the great Congo River was then in the process of forming as more than a semi-circle around a massive central part of the equatorial forests. It eventually became almost a complete giant circle as there was another major river to the south. Neither bonobos nor chimps (nor many predators) can swim. This separation nurtured the two new ways of life of this former great ape.

Present day geneticists put the timing of this ape that became relatively suddenly separated into two species, the bonobo and common chimp between 2 and 2.5 mya, which is probably about correct. Remember, this great ape had many pre-human qualities, and both species still do today, lying in wait for the opportunity to potentially rapidly evolve – but they never did. The unfolding story of ape to human development was of course very different in the east of Africa.

Inside the rivers in the equatorial forests there was hardly a predator and a lot of small animals for hunting with lots of safety in trees (where the groups slept in tree-beds they made from small branches and leaves), fruits, nuts, water, more than before; for what became the modern bonobo and its changing behaviour, relationships and increased cooperation patterns. However, the forests outside the rivers were mainly the peripheral forests with much lack of safety, less abundance of food, more predator dangers, etc. This new way of life likewise changed as new patterns of behaviour and relations amongst what became common chimps emerged.

I hope this sets in context a comparative study of bonobo life and common chimp life – one of which is sharing and cooperative with conflicts controlled by females who initiate orgies before or at the emergence of conflict between males, in what is a definite matriarchal yet rough egalitarian way of life. This is compared with the chimp way of life which is patriarchal with violent Alpha male competitiveness; they are greedy, uncooperative and less communicative. The latter echoes the very recent inhuman history of hierarchical ways, the one that capitalists (and their ‘scientists’ and ‘journalists’) favour as being like our human nature, as natural, as the mass media ‘inform’ and educational establishments ‘preach’ that we come from chimps. The bonobo way reflects 7 million years of humane development from a great matriarchal ape where we lived and were nurtured as communal gatherer-hunters – which is rooted in mothering.

On18th Sept 2014, the BBC website ran one of its brainwashing articles, ‘Murder comes naturally to chimpanzees’. Just search it: the article began, “A major study suggests that killing among chimpanzees results from normal competition, not human interference. Apart from humans, chimpanzees are the only primates known to gang up on their neighbours with lethal results.”

Here they deliberately lump the bonobo species and common chimp species together as one under the title ‘chimpanzee’. This ‘major study’ of many prominent well-paid career scientists was purposely so vague that it allowed journalists to come up with this title and introduction. There is a decades long disagreement between a growing small minority of primatologists and anthropologists against this dominant and smothering story which is highly political as it deals with the question of the origins ‘of what it means to be human’, of ‘what is human nature’? Here I wish to support that small minority on the significance of the bonobo way of life, and I am also able to synthesise the insights of Marx, Engels and a living dialectics to come up with quite an original theory that bodes well for our future human society despite current desperate times.

We just looked at the evolutionary tree. Before we go onto modern bonobos, we have to grasp the significance of beginning with the concreteness of the present before reading history backwards – as Marx did in Capital (see Ollman’s famous ‘Dance of the Dialectic’ from p115 on, section on ‘Studying History Backward: A neglected Feature of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History’). Marx used this method because the present is real and concrete, whilst history (and science) is written by the intellectuals, the well-paid servants of the elites of victors of battles and land conquest, and the further we travel back the less precise are facts – after all everyone knows that god created all the heavens and the earth in 6 days just a few thousand years ago. So in investigations into something, we begin with the real present, travel back in time, and use these two to point towards the potential future, which is yet a further vantage point from which to view the present and what next steps we need to take – that method of Marx is what I try to do here.

The bonobo way of life

images There is a book which is a must read! It is ‘Bonobo – The Forgotten Ape’ by Frans de Waal, with amazing photos by Frans Lanting. Also, there is a website with a ‘resources’ section, http://www.bonobo.org/ and there’s much more. Just imagine, experience and learn Reader! Capitalism needs the bonobo to be ‘forgotten’ – and the fact that ‘scientists’ focus much more on the common chimp as our ancestor is not accidental. We humans need to learn and remember why this is the case.

Even in today’s version of the bonobo, elderly females in the Congo forests are still actually in charge of their troops because of their communicating abilities, by their emotional bonds as experienced mothers, and by organising with other females who together dominate the males, who seem unwilling to act collectively. Why would they want to destroy a comfortable and highly pleasurable life? Compare this with the ghettoisation and lack of prestige of elderly human women today!?! Any bonobo male misbehaving, being selfish for example, is in danger of having his ears chewed by the collective action of females. Painful!! Ouch!?!

So in bonobo life, there is relatively little naughtiness and little pain. Peace and cooperation, a rough egalitarianism dominates. Females actually organise sex orgies before tension between males builds up, sex before newly-found food is distributed equally and some is carried on two legs back to camp, and sex is used as a tool of equality – and elderly females are really in charge, but not bossy, after all they are the mothers of both males and females. We humans evolved from an earlier version of these wonderful creatures – we should be proud of 7my of communal gatherer-hunter life – but modern media call them ‘barbarians’.

Compared to their cumbersome chunky common chimp cousins, bonobos today are the same height, but slimmer, with thinner necks and torsos, straighter backs and they are far more graceful. They have longer legs, like humans, and can walk on two legs much more elegantly and for much longer distances than their cousins, often with an almost eerily human-like posture. They have smaller canines, especially the females. Their foreheads and brows are much higher, their eyes are bigger and easier to see (incredibly important for communication and developing trust in joint actions), their lips are pink (ie, more visible) and they have flatter faces, with a stylish black head of long hair neatly parted down the middle. Female breasts are more prominent than in other primates but not as much as humans and uniquely with humans they have sex in the missionary position, face-to-face with deep eye contact.

Indeed, in appearance bonobos are by far closer to humans than any other primate. More importantly, they are also closer to the behaviour of our forces of humanity – and definitely nothing to do with the inhumanity of the system led by a small minority of ‘humans’ today.

As Dr Susan Block, author of ‘The Bonobo Way’, wrote on her website http://www.blockbonobofoundation.org/ (another useful resource on bonobo life):

“Bonobos have some kind of sex almost every day, usually several times a day. Females are in heat for three-quarters of their cycle, and many of them copulate even when not in heat, a sexual pattern more like human females than that of any other mammal. Though common chimpanzees only partake in basic reproductive sex, bonobos share all kinds of sexual pleasures, including cunnilingus, fellatio, masturbation, massage, bisexuality, body-licking, sex in different positions, group sex; with lots of long, deep, wet, soulful French kissing. Like tantric sex practitioners, or just like two people very much in love, copulating bonobos often look deeply into each other’s eyes.” … “But it’s not just how they have sex that makes bonobos so important, especially to humans. It’s how they use sex: for barter, friendship, stress-relief, anger management, conflict resolution and even political positioning that allows the females to gently dominate the males, and to prevent murder and war in their communities. That’s right, no bonobo has ever been seen killing another bonobo in the wild or in captivity. Their uncanny ability to make “peace through pleasure” is intrinsically related to their sexuality.”

Bonobos are hot: they have sex every which way and many times each day, and they really are ‘make love not war’ creatures. Females rub their vulvas against each other fast and gentle, called genito-genital, or G-G-rubbing by researchers; but the better more musical ‘hoka-hoka’ term comes from most local indigenous tribal people who have come to observe bonobo life, which they largely worship. Others kill them for food. De Waal writes about one zookeeper, aware that bonobos sometimes kiss, allowed one male bonobo to kiss him, only to find a long tongue deep down his throat.

When on Earth did we humans go wrong? Arrgghh! I think you know the answer dear Reader – it was more recently when patriarchy, accumulated possession and control over women first by force, and then law arrived. Later, various religions became the norm in restricting sex to male right and control and every sexist act including rape. Things are changing in some parts of the world but much too slowly. Just search ‘polyamory’ and ‘compersion’ together as there are important pointers to our natural humane free future in regard to human relations and sexuality – more on this in the next chapter.

The emergence of accumulated property and hierarchy emerged recently with male power over mothers when men for the first time behind closed doors could be a bit more certain her children were ‘his’ children. So possession and oppression extended to women and her children and became the norm over time – as blood inheritance took hold, as second names emerged, as accumulated private property (theft from the community) came to be handed down to the eldest son who had the fathers surname. Oh, what a mess of affairs!?!

What does ‘the bonobo way’ mean today?

Bonobos which have only been scientifically observed, researched and analysed in the last few decades, due to their geo-isolation, have laughingly launched themselves onto the fat table of the conservative anthropologists and primatologists and given them all severe indigestion. Peripheral to the deeper forests, common chimps have been known for much longer and their behaviour ideally suits both big-money and these ‘professional’ scientists in defining how human nature evolved. It is the common chimp in the threatening peripheral forests, not the cooperating bonobo, that has markedly changed in its behaviour and patterns of organisation in the last 2.5 my. Remember, changing behavioural patterns in bonobos and chimps are pre-human qualities, so their behaviours can change more than with other animals but no way so far or rapid as we humans.

For nearly all of the 7 my transition to becoming fully human we have lived the gatherer-hunter way of life which originated in our bonobo-like great ape of 7 my and beyond. Most anthropologists today finally accept, in a sexist manner, what they call communal ‘hunter-gatherer’ life as genteel, largely matriarchal, matrilineal, and roughly egalitarian. They hardly dare touch on the sexual freedoms organised by the solidarity and power between female bonobos and between gatherer women. And they deeply fear linking the bonobo way with 7 million years of human evolution and humane hard-wiring. Why?

It is because to do so would reposition our forces of humanity and humanness as a sleeping smothered giant in an optimistic mode. It is something from which community organisations, the human network and the genuine workers movement can gain confidence to scream, “There is an alternative – a modern decentralised loving humanity can be consciously created, planned, organised and built! We don’t need money or profit, we don’t need to accumulate private wealth!” Revolutionary catalysts today must network and cultivate ultra-modern human development programmes for communities and workplaces, and furnish them. If the present capitalist multi-crises are not enough impetus to complete the human revolution globally, then the prospect of failure – an Orwellian ‘1984’ future of permanent global wars, of decimating environmental disaster, and not just for decades – must motivate each conscious human and the forces of humanity.

Genetic-determinism, again?!?

In a global study by many prominent genetic scientists, led by the prestigious Max Planck Institute, ‘The bonobo genome compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes’, we find the most ‘balanced’ official viewpoint (Nature  June, 2012).  Genetically they find bonobos, humans and chimps as roughly equidistant from each other at about 98.7% identical, yet they cannot resist commenting on behaviour, which they have not researched, just guessed at. We find that with bonobos and chimps:

“…the behaviour of the two species differs in important ways. For example, male chimpanzees use aggression to compete for dominance rank and obtain sex, and they cooperate to defend their home range and attack other groups. By contrast, bonobo males are commonly subordinate to females and do not compete intensely for dominance rank. They do not form alliances with one another and there is no evidence of lethal aggression between groups. Compared with chimpanzees, bonobos are playful throughout their lives and show intense sexual behaviour that serves non-conceptive functions and often involves same-sex partners. Thus, chimpanzees and bonobos each possess certain characteristics that are more similar to human traits than they are to one another’s.”

At least they mildly accept the differences in behaviour, but this last sentence equalising of the two behaviours as human-like is repeated in their cowardly study and allows western journalists to interpret things as they like. For them “human traits” are not the 7 my of humanization and its hard-wiring, but ‘human traits’ are judged from the dehumanised recent and present time. It is not an unthinking cop-out, but mostly an anti-historical, genetic-determinist and a political judgment that suits capitalists; their paymasters. It dictates that human nature as it has recently become in capitalist culture is ‘normal’, that greed and selfishness is dominant in human nature instead of the recent inhuman aberration we have become. The study uses only genetic measuring rods instead of behavioural, cultural accumulation, continuous learning and the human mode of development – yet they are more than willing to comment on behaviour.

PART 2 – ENGELS ON HUMAN ORIGINS

Labour vs. social activities

Marx and Engels’ first writings on human origins and praxis were in the 1844-6 period, and we’ve already quoted much from Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, and much is invaluable from those writings, even though knowledge of human history and natural science of the time was severely limited. The same goes for 1876, when Engels wrote The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man which features in this section.

Before we deal with the brilliance of this work, Engels, as soon as the second paragraph, comes out with mistaken knowledge of researchers of his day, like Darwin, that our ancestor apes lived on a continent that “has now sunk to the bottom of the sea” or that they had “pointed ears”. This dates his writings on apes as being at the very beginnings of serious research on apes. It was not until well over a hundred years later, that the truth of the relation between chimps and bonobos became known, and that the real bonobo is suppressed, ‘forgotten’, by today’s mass media and establishment scientists.

So we will not concentrate on obvious mistakes that hindsight and science corrects, but the brilliant use of the dialectic by Engels in grasping how the pre-human parts and aspects of apes developed together, alongside his one-sided overemphasis on ‘bipedalism’, ‘hand’ and ‘labour’. Engels goes way beyond even Leakey’s more recent work in grasping the essential workings of human development as based in his view of human activity and the essence of our origins.

However, let’s begin with Engels’ first paragraph: “Labour is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert. And it really is the source – next to nature, which supplies it with the material that it converts into wealth. But it is even infinitely more than this. It is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this to such an extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labour created man himself.”

Defining ‘labour’ first as economic, is true, but he then went on to say “it is even infinitely more than this. . . labour created man himself.” Elsewhere in the document he makes reference to “Mastery over nature began with the development of the hand, with labour” and “first labour and then with it speech” and so on.

No other ‘Marxist’ to my knowledge criticizes this all-embracing use of ‘labour’ as what I term as ‘politi-centric’, in that Engels allows his political interests, which understandably consume him, lead to a very one-sided linguistic description of human origins as sourced in labour and therefore he confuses himself and many readers. Engels has extended and extrapolated in his mind the term ‘labour’ so that it stretches to mean all social or human actions. He has done the same with the ‘hand’, for in his day manual and intellectual work were much more polarised than today, the hand representing the proletariat – the ‘gravedigger’ of capitalism.

As a generalisation human or social actions are what made us human, of which today ‘labour’ is an all-important sub-set, and has a specific economic meaning that everyone knows about. Sure, labour and social actions interpenetrate and overlap each other all the time yet this has only helped in the confusion. All class struggle also comes under the struggle between the forces of humanity and inhumanity as its economic struggle, yet labour in class struggle is also still the decisive spear-head and force for societal transformation today – but clarity demands we separate them. Understanding Marx’s concept of economic base and superstructure which I highlight in chapter 4 on the Productive Forces and Human Development helps us grasp all this. To my knowledge Marx never used ‘labour’ in this Engelsian human origins manner of “labour created man himself.”

Marx talked of labour under capitalist production and consumption, and then of the rich fully developing varied activity of the future human. For example, in the Grundrisse he wrote of the future human, “The rich individuality … is as varied and comprehensive in its production as it is in its consumption, and … labour therefore no longer appears as labour but as the full development of activity itself, in which natural necessity has disappeared in its immediate form; because natural need has been replaced by historically produced need.”

Labour is something we humans, like class struggle, should be wanting to get rid of along with capitalism! We want an end to the oppression under labour vs. capital, we aspire to an end to class struggle. Labour in dictionaries is defined as unskilled manual work, toil, wage labour vs. capital, labour camps and slave labour, bonded labour, child labour, going into labour as the very painful exhausting hours of hard work just before child birth, etc. Laboured or labouring is done with great difficulty and not as free activity with spontaneity, grace or fluency. A labourer is usually an exploited human doing paid unskilled hard manual work.

Engels states, “. . . the sense of touch, which the ape hardly possesses in its crudest form, has been developed only side by side with the development of the human hand itself, through the medium of labour.” Engels obviously knew nothing of the extensive grooming by various species of ape and especially the bonobo with its very touchy sexual games. And was it ‘labour’ when humans or anthropoid mothers caress their babies or when lovers or sex partners touch? Was it ‘labour’ or pleasure when a mother breast-feeds or plays with her baby or toddler? Is a 10-year-old girl in a school playground defending another from big bullies engaged in class struggle or in brave, humane action?

Let’s look at a further example of the confusion. Marx and Engels open up the Communist Manifesto of 1848 with the words “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” However, ‘society’, as gatherer-hunter life, for 7 million years did not have class struggle or systemic hierarchy. After many editions of the Communist Manifesto and after Marx’s death, Engels in 1888 finally added a correcting footnote to this opening sentence, commenting, “That is, all written history. In 1847, the pre-history of society, the social organisation existing previous to recorded history [was] all but unknown. . . with the dissolution of the primeval communities, society begins to be differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes.” Here we also have further confusion about when ‘pre-history’ ended and his/story began. However, the obvious logic from Engels is that he also made the same mistake by talking of ‘labour’ (a class term if ever there was one) as being central to the whole 7 million years of human evolution, to prehistory. That sentence should have read, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is a history of the struggle between the forces of humanity and inhumanity, of which class struggle is the all-important economic element.’

A living dialectics has to speak the same language as the rest of society, or the dead, mortified dialectics of ‘Marxist’ orthodoxy will continue in its ghettoisation and remain economic determinist. We humans crave freely-agreed social activities to meet our array of human needs working in close cooperation at communal, workplace and regional levels, in which all our human potential and creative forces are exercised to the full as loving ‘rich human beings’, engaged in rapid-deep learning. A movement towards this existed for 7 million years. Labour, as part of hierarchy and class struggle, only began 12,000 years ago and took thousands of years to spread globally. Instead of saying that “labour created man himself”, we should accurately say that ‘social actions’ or ‘collaborative activities’ created we humans. What made and still makes us human was/is ever-complex authentic needs being met by freely-agreed more intricate creative and social actions from which we permanently learn, accumulate culture, learn lessons and develop richer needs. This free agreement with labour obviously doesn’t happen under capitalism. Nor do complex social actions, permanent learning and cultural cumulation occur in genetic, organic developmental processes.

The brilliance of Engels

The brilliance of Engels is that even though he wrongly used the phrase labour in an all-embracing politi-centric human evolutionary sense, he simultaneously understood it was human activity that was the key factor that made us human. If anyone had challenged him on his economism on this he would have immediately “oops” corrected himself, but the document was only published just after his death. He never used human activity as a dramatic new ‘mode of development’ or unfold its dialectical-cell as I begin to do here, but he did distinguish it from animal and organic development processes whilst seeing our origins and human history as emerging from and born of natural history.

Remember in the last chapter on Dialectics and Praxis I talked about Engels’ confusion in his stating that dialectics was about the general laws of ‘nature, society and thought’ – instead of ‘inorganic, organic and human’ forms of development. This confusion greatly held Engels back in developing dialectics, praxis and a better grasping human origins. Bourgeois anthropologists use brain size or just the intellectual human brain as what distinguishes us from animals; some point to fire use or making of tools, flint knives/spearheads; some say complex spoken language or symbolic art, etc. In his document Engels highlighted the fundamental problem with pro-capitalist thinkers as ‘civilisation’ and hierarchy developed:

“All merit for the swift advance of civilisation was ascribed to the mind, to the development and activity of the brain. Men became accustomed to explain their actions as arising out of thought instead of their needs (which in any case are reflected and perceived in the mind); and so in the course of time there emerged that idealistic world outlook which, especially since the fall of the world of antiquity, has dominated men’s minds. It still rules them to such a degree that even the most materialistic natural scientists of the Darwinian school are still unable to form any clear idea of the origin of man, because under this ideological influence they do not recognise the part that has been played therein by labour.”

Notice, for Engels ‘actions arise’ from objective ‘needs’. He’s correct, and separates himself and Marxism from ‘professional’ anthropology. Beyond Engels, we are talking of each nesting spiral of human action (as the dialectical-cell) as starting and ending each phase objectively, of being a material reality – being in need, becoming, new being and richer need! Marx famously wrote, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Brain processes are only part of any spiral of social activity. Yet, even generally good scientists today like the BBC presenter Brian Cox states clearly that “our brains and intelligence are what distinguish us from animals.” Engels couldn’t imagine that 140 years after writing those words that idealism would rule and dominate minds to an even greater degree than in his time.

THE ‘INTEGRAL, HIGHLY COMPLEX ORGANISM’ – Engels in the document wrote, “… the hand did not exist alone, it was only one member of an integral, highly complex organism.” This admission of the hand as ‘only one member’ is Engels reverting to the dialectical method of understanding a system, a thing, and all its essential cluster of parts and aspects that affect and are affected by the whole – rather than his narrower focus on bi-pedality and the subsequent freeing hands as the source of labour. He faces both ways at once as he just couldn’t have understood its future importance in his time.

Indeed as with Marx, Engels does refer to brain development, increasing social practical cooperation and communications, hand, erect gait, labour, as part of the connected whole, etc – as this “integral, highly complex organism”, not the individual organism, but as part of the troop, the community. He wrote, “By the combined functioning of hand, speech organs and brain, not only in each individual but also in society, men became capable of executing more and more complicated operations, and were able to set themselves, and achieve, higher and higher aims. The work of each generation itself became different, more perfect and more diversified.”

Engels grasped the relation between the parts and the whole. To emphasise the point I’m going to quote Lenin again on the dialectics of the development of the part and the whole, something I wish he had applied to praxis and mass organisations. Lenin (who really appreciated rich aspects of Hegel) wrote in 1915, “The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts is the essence (one of the essentials, one of the principal, if not the principal characteristics or features) of dialectics … as a property of all human knowledge in general … dialectics as living, many sided knowledge [which] is not (or does not follow) a straight line, but a curve, which endlessly approximates a series of circles, a spiral … Dialectics is the theory of knowledge of (Hegel and) Marxism.”

Lenin again, brilliantly states that dialectics is “… not only the unity of opposites, but the transition of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite] … the endless process of the discovery of new sides, relations, etc … the endless process of the deepening of man’s knowledge of the thing, of phenomena, processes, etc., from appearance to essence and from less profound to more profound essence … Dialectics as ‘living’, many-sided knowledge (with the number of sides eternally increasing), with an infinite number of shades of every approach and approximation to reality (with a philosophical system growing into a whole out of each shade).” (see my chapter 5 for more of these Lenin quotes).

Engels states that “It stands to reason that if erect gait among our hairy ancestors became first the rule and then, in time, a necessity, other diverse functions must, in the meantime, have devolved upon the hands … the decisive step had been taken, the hands had become free.” In fact it was the other way around. Erect gait, or bi-pedality, did not come first. It came about because of the bonobo-like need to carry food back to base or camp, back to the troop, especially the elderly, mothers and children. It was the growing social need amongst our bonobo-like ancestors to share food which enhanced the survival chances of the whole troop. It was enhanced cooperation that led to bi-pedality and only then the hand was free to further develop ‘greater dexterity’ and ‘greater flexibility’ as Engels states. That enhanced cooperation led to the ‘survival of the fittest’ troops.

The confusion regarding bipedality and one-sided approaches to our origins is widespread, even amongst the best of anthropologists like Richard Leakey, who I’ve already mentioned. In ‘Origins Reconsidered’ he states, “For me, the fundamental distinction between us and our closest relative is not our language, not our culture, not our technology. It is that we stand upright … In essence, humans are bipedal apes who happened to develop all these other qualities we usually associate with being human.” p 81.

It was not that we “happened to develop all these other qualities” – they were all essential aspects and parts; essential workings of social activity, of being and becoming human. He does not understand here that there were a cluster of complex and essential pre-human qualities that were ‘ALL’ necessary, all vital, to the workings of social human activity – and the absence of even one of these qualities would have meant no human evolution. Imagine a bicycle without a wheel or a chain, or brakes or handlebars, or cogs and oil, or nuts and bolts, a seat or even a human rider – then it cannot act as a bicycle getting someone from A-B. If any one of the of our key brain functions of developed memory, forethought, abstraction, concretization, conceptualisation, etc; were not functioning – never mind the long list of other functions – then neither would the human be human.

However, on p 145 Leakey becomes just a little more realistic, “Humans become human through intense learning – not just of survival in the practical world, but of customs and social mores, kinship and social laws. In other words: culture. Culture can be said to be the human condition.” (Leakey’s emphasis – I will comment on ‘culture’ shortly, SM). And even here, these short snappy and incomplete definitions of what it means to be and become human are rampant amongst anthropologists and others. Leakey misses out that it is not ‘intense learning’ as he states, but ‘permanent learning’ that is a key factor in separating us from the genetic and biological mode of development. Further, it is not just culture alone, but ongoing ‘cumulative’ culture that takes place on a daily basis, indeed every second. Life does not contain frozen things or moments to be analysed in isolation from ongoing time. This harks back to what I was saying earlier about a fundamental of dialectics; that to grasp reality we have to see and feel everything and every system in flux, as processes of change and transformations that are all interconnected. There is no other way to grasp progress and evolution and only in this way can our praxis become rooted in ongoing developments happening all around us. It’s called conscious revolutionary practice, praxis, which I dearly hope will become the normal human condition, typical activity in a future truly human society.

PART 3 – OTHER RELEVANT QUESTIONS

The new way of life, a ‘novel adaptation’, an ‘evolutionary leap’

Throughout the chapters so far and in this one, I have for a purpose sharply contrasted the recent hierarchical phase of human evolution as a temporary aberration from humanity, in contrast to the 7 million years of the hardwiring of a way of living, of cumulative culture, permanent learning and the human ‘mode of development’. Capitalism will do anything to stop the emerging hope in us of a truly loving cooperating human future. Our humanity is much stronger than inhumanity, but is purposely drugged and largely asleep. How do we wake up?

Well, the famous anthropologist Richard Leakey certainly and unknowingly gives us a big head-start here. The recent decades of research of Jane Goodall (who for many years worked closely with Leakey in Africa) and Frans De Waal (and many others), into modern chimp and bonobo life is invaluable. It demonstrates that many pre-human activity processes in body, mind and social behaviour were already present – just not working together organically, spirally, in a human fashion, not yet, as happened amongst a small minority of great ape. This is why their behavioural patterns could change only to limited extents without a corresponding genetic change. They could have been in this stagnant condition for millions of years beforehand, we just don’t know, science is not yet there.

Anyway, I feel the need to drum home Leakey’s comments on 7mya. He talked of a sudden new challenging way of life in East Africa for some troops of our ancestors, suddenly living in “the rich mosaic of ecological conditions”, which led to “drive evolutionary innovation” and led to a “novel adaptation”, to an “evolutionary leap”, “a burgeoning known as adaptive radiation”. These few words represent a highly sophisticated grasp of evolution. Something very, very new happened! But what exactly was it? Leakey never explained it, he was not armed for this.

It was the beginnings of human social activity, a new mode of development, equal in evolutionary terms to the first cells, the beginning of life as we know it – except it is not so easy to spot even today, though we do it all the time, and it is all around us and visible every day in everything we do and make with others or witness others in action. We just can’t see the wood for the trees. Microscopes were not needed now; a certain level of scientific and human development in general is needed to see through the fog and mist.

Modes of development, Engels and generalisation

When human cooperation becomes global – assuming we get there – the exponential scientific, technological and human development of recent decades will look positively snail-like by comparison as the truly human being emerges and we become our empowered free selves: all we humans becoming ourselves, consciously and creatively re-making ourselves and our world together. This has never happened in nature before – with our present limited knowledge of the cosmos – but how do we begin to dissect the cosmos regarding levels of generality between its most basic parts?

The Engels’ quote I make in chapter-5, that dialectics is the manner in which to my knowledge all academic ‘Marxist’ dialecticians have since separated the three modes of development is mistakenly sourced again in Hegel, but also reflects most bourgeois scientific standpoints from a mechanical point of view. They all consider the most general forms of motion are ‘nature, society, and human thought’. They are so wrong to separate ‘society’ and ‘thought’ at this most basic level of generalisation in this way – it is anthropocentric at root separating thought from action, of dissecting praxis. The three basic modes of science are the ‘inorganic, organic and human’ methods of development, as far as the limited human knowledge knows presently. At a more complex level of abstraction and generalisation, thought and its parts can be analysed and separated in our minds, but they are only concrete and living when in the context of being a part of the multiple integrated range of human practical activities.

Biological science met much resistance – especially when it was proving we evolved from apes and not the recent guessing dreams of a sexist elderly white blond blue-eyed male – but it needed a whole new system aside from Newtonian physics, a system of new biological measuring rods, in analysing the germ-cell and the genetic organic mode of development, of metabolism, of living systems; inclusive of but also way beyond cosmic, mathematical and quantum physics. Biological and genetic development was/is thousands of times faster. Well, so it is with the leap from the organic to the human mode of development. Science today largely and relatively sees the inorganic, organic and human thought as forms of existence, as things; and not themselves as ever-changing and interconnected and interpenetrating systems and phenomena, not as everything or every system as interdependent, not as ‘modes of development’ in themselves.

Understanding these modes of development, as nature’s basic three levels of generality (for more see the Marxist Bertell Ollman’s excellent book, ‘Dance of the Dialectic’, 2003, from p86 on, in the section ‘Levels of Generality’) is essential in scientifically grasping how the human mode works. Ollman explores Marx’s prolific use of generalisation in Capital.

A mode of development is a system and has all the properties and functions of systems in general, except it is also a system where the organic development of other systems takes place in a concentrated manner – like a catalyst. (For my own use I personally term a ‘mode of development’ as a ‘matrix-web’ as it better fits nature’s ways). So, for example, the different human hierarchical economic systems like the ancient, feudalism and capitalism take place within the system, the mode of development of human hierarchy. Or we can call the system of capitalism as a mode of development in which capital, money, profit, rent, exploitation, wars, competition, selfishness, alienation, etc; find much nutrition for growth. Both hierarchy and capitalism are different levels of generalisation, as is the human from thought. The parts of thought belong to the system of brain work which are essential but inseparable from the whole human body and that from social organisations. Thought itself belongs to the human mode of development, as integral to human social activity in general. Engels got it confused, but we have to be forgiving of the mistakes of the second greatest humane and revolutionary thinker of his century.

Humanity vs. inhumanity

In chapter 7 we investigate Marx’s concept of the human being, of we humans – something the ‘Marxists’ have overwhelmingly ignored, in particular the role of cultural development. In particular we will review a marvelous chapter from Cyril Smith’s book, Marx at the Millennium, called ‘The Standpoint of Socialised Humanity’, which can easily be searched online and I strongly suggest this to Readers.

Please join the debate below on Redline. I’m also happy to respond to personal email discussions at stevem5@outlook.com

Read the first five pieces in this series

Dialectics, pt 1, Dialectics, system theory and biology

Dialectics, pt 2, Dialectical systems and chaos

Dialectics, pt 3, Dialectical systems and order

Dialectics, pt 4, The productive forces and human development

Dialectics, pt 5, Dialectics and praxis

 

 

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Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Fahrenheit 451 Used Books and commented:
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  2. Richard Levins says:

    Dear Stephen, Congratulations for a delightful chapter. It is significant
    that many of us are reaching beyond recent history of capitalism to look
    as the broad sweep of human evolution. The convergence of ecological
    disasters makes a radical step needed, beyond the usual social democratic
    demands for job security and better wages.This brings back the notion of
    communism as representing a necessary stage in our ecological succession.
    I would like to insert a few comments:
    Ecologists divide animal life by their sources of food into
    herbivores(separating planktivores,seed, leaf and root eaters),
    detritivores, carnivores (subdivided into insectivores, etc).We are
    something new. Unlike finding or capturing our food we produce it. By
    transforming the indigestible into the digestible we greatly extend the
    scope of our food, its abundance, its geographic spread. ³digestion²
    outside the body t
    And preservation through the use of fire, drying and salting becomes
    itself a major part of our environment that in turn acts on our physical
    evolution (enzymes, loss of the third molar when we don¹t have to chew raw
    food all day), changes in foot anatomy related to running, hand dexterity
    etc), we extend our geographic range to find now usable materials, then
    adapt to the new conditions. It is not necessity alone that produces
    adaptation but necessity combined with possibility, as the results of
    previous evolution direct natural selection. We are productivores, a new
    ecological category.
    I am uneasy about the adoption of the term ³hard wired², which is part of
    the vocabulary and outlook of biological determinists.
    Another error of Engels¹ was the assumption that the desire to confirm
    paternity was a reason for monogamy, as if the desire to confirm paternity
    was somehow a natural trait that required no explanation.
    The reinsertion of the discussions of dialects is an important step for a
    movement all too contaminated with pragmatism.

    Best wishes, Dick Levins

  3. Steve Masterson says:

    Dear Richard – thanks once again for your positive words on my series/chapters. You have no idea how important your support in particular is for me, considering my first chapter was on your article ‘Dialectics and Systems Theory’. Let me indulge myself in quoting your first and last words above:

    “Dear Stephen, Congratulations for a delightful chapter. It is significant that many of us are reaching beyond recent history of capitalism to look as the broad sweep of human evolution … The reinsertion of the discussions of dialects is an important step for a movement all too contaminated with pragmatism.”

    I couldn’t agree more, but as Lenin argued, it has to be ‘a living dialectics’ that is ‘reinserted’ into the revolutionary movement. Dialectics today in the hands of the ‘Marxists’ is not only dead, it is a drowning lead chain around the neck of our revolutionary movement. It is not so much a ‘reinsertion’ that is needed but a rebirth based on all that is new. You do this with your incredible book ‘The Dialectical Biologist’, which is a must read.

    In your sentence of constructive criticism, “I am uneasy about the adoption of the term ‘hard-wired’, which is part of the vocabulary and outlook of biological determinists.” Well I too was very uneasy using that term for the very same reason. The problem was that when we talk of 7my of humane cultural hegemony versus the recent few thousand years of dominant inhuman hierarchy we have to use a language that is simple and decisively separates the two. Unable to think of any other way of expression, I put the phrase in, took it out, put it back in; several times this went on. Any alternative proposals from you or any Reader are more than welcome.

    Warm season’s greetings to you Richard – and thanks again XX – steve

  4. Steve Masterson says:

    Dear Richard – I have come up with a compromise in the use of ‘hard-wired’ in relation to our 7my of the humanisation process – that is ‘cultural hard wiring’. What do you or anyone else think? IA’m not happy with compromises but ….