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Social Upheaval

Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from D.K. Wright, who commented on the article by Mack Green, "A Composition for Social Upheaval: Tribalism, Ideologues, Scapegoatism and Modern Media

Very nicely done, a piece worth saving. It certainly got me rattled so I thought I might throw in a few ideas that might also be playing out in your description of behavior within the tribal structure. Clearly, from an E.O. Wilson perspective, altruism is an inherent behavior, the glue that holds the tribes together. The closer in the families and community members are, the greater the altruism—thus, the tribe of likeminded and blood connected individuals. Your additions to that concept are profound and somewhat frightening.

It has also become clear, maybe just to me, that we tribes are territorial (Robert Ardrey) by our genetic design, bloody hard wired to say the least. Under even normal stable conditions, we humans will defend our resources and our home ground to death. Toss in some conflict and all hell will break out—and maybe close in.

As individuals and tribes we constantly strive to improve our lot. We are never content to think enough is enough. We simply always want a bigger and bigger cave. This being the hard-driving desire to always have an exponentially expanding GDP.

We, like all animals, are also programed to breed uncontrollably and expand our numbers into every bit of environment at the expense of all other living things. Thus, even in this overcrowded, overshot days, we are still expanding our numbers by one million people every 4.5 days, a staggering 80 million a year.

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It also appears that as individuals and tribes we constantly strive to improve our lot. We are never content to think enough is enough. We simply always want a bigger and bigger cave. This being the hard-driving desire to always have an exponentially expanding GDP.

To top off, but probably not the last of the inherent behaviors, we have delusion, or blind faith. Every one of us seem to think that tomorrow will be a better day. All we have to do is have faith, faith in the sky-daddy, faith in some animal god, faith in technology—just believe and everything will be just fine. (reg Morrison—Spirit in the Gene) (Nate Hagans—Univ. of Minn).

So when I step back and look at all these inherent behaviors briefly listed, and I read your well thought-out description of just the one inherent trait, I find myself reaching for a nice single malt Scotch. It is hard not to realize that all of these traits, these inherent behavioral characteristics were at one point in time through evolution very important if not critical, for our development as a species. If we did not have these, we would not be who we are. It is how we got here—jack-asses we may well be.

As you have pointed out, these tribal tendencies are fraught with terrifying issues. Our genetics were simply not developed to cope with Facebook, and a hundred other modern-day contraptions. Are the other inherited characteristics I have mentioned also a threat to our survival in the same complicated ways you mentioned? Are they a fatal flaw? Are we a plague species? How will all these issues play out as a group? Another 80 million people next year? Is global climate change a symptom or a disease in itself?

Thanks for the great article—but I will be pouring another single malt because I have no solutions but as Bob Dylan said, “There are many here among us that think that life is but a joke. But you and I have been through that and that is not our fate. So, do not speak softly now the hour is getting late.”