Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 18, 2020

A History of Humanity’s Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 2:34 pm

A History of Humanity’s Future

Our variety of the human species, homo sapiens sapiens, emerged from out of bands of more primitive yet contemporaneous older variants of humanity well over 200,000 years ago and rapidly expanded in both their numbers and the range of their occupancy on our planet. The competitive pressure by this efflorescence of homo sapiens sapiens against the older variants of humanity reduced the numbers of the latter to the point of extinction over the course of 1600 centuries, leaving just our variety of the human species to range over the Earth for 40,000 years up to the beginning of the 21st century. The story of our species from then up to the present moment is the subject of this work.

via A History of Humanity’s Future

7 Comments »

  1. Bright, thoughtful, grim. Gotta get off the dime. . . . . !

    Comment by Elliot Podwill — February 18, 2020 @ 2:55 pm

  2. Thanks, Louis, your recommendation brought much more attention to my article. I’ll tell you what went into it. First of course my thinking about climate change and its implications since at least 2004, when I began writing about it (for Swans), with by now over 50 articles at least. Then I was inspired in one way or another, directly for this piece, by three books and two movies. Those books are: Earth Abides (George R. Stewart, 1949), A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1959), Magister Ludi, The Glass Bead Game (Hermann Hesse, 1943, 1949 in English). The movies are: The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Earth Abides was a particular influence. I recommend all of these to thoughtful readers and viewers.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — February 18, 2020 @ 7:30 pm

  3. History is full of examples of people warring, displacing and wiping out other groups over territory, from Rome’s destruction of Carthage, to the American conquest of the West and the British colonisation of Australia. There have also been recent genocides and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Darfur and Myanmar.

    Like language or tool use, a capacity for and tendency to engage in genocide is arguably an intrinsic, instinctive part of human nature. There’s little reason to think that early Homo sapiens were less territorial, less violent, less intolerant – less human.

    The above quote from an article on Science Alert (https://www.sciencealert.com/did-homo-sapiens-kill-off-all-the-other-humans), so reminiscent of Napoleon Chagnon’s ideas about the Yanomamo, moralizes the extinction phenomenon in a highly unscientific way, and substitutes melodrama based on unchanging forces in the human id or “soul” or whatever for the continuation of evolution by other means through history.

    As far as I can tell (glad to be corrected), there’s no firm consensus currently that Sapiens actually drove Neanderthalensis etc. to extinction, and even those who advance this hypothesis stop well short of alleging genocide. (See for example Banks et al, “Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion,” 2008,https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?type=printable&id=10.1371/journal.pone.0003972.)

    Very likely climate change played a far larger role than warfare etc., for which, AFAIK, there isn’t any actual evidence. There’s also the awkward fact of the 3% of Neanderthal genes among Europeans and Denisovan and mysterious other genes among other H. Sapiens populations, suggesting that the species were at least somewhat interfertile and the smaller N. and D. populations may have been in some part simply fucked to death, absorbed lovingly into the Sapiens populations.

    I admire Manuel Garcia and am on board with placing the current eco-disaster at the top of every social and political agenda–a crisis that should dwarf mere intellectual quibbles going forward.

    But if Marxists are coming around to the above-stated as it were “originalist” or Chagnonian view, what is left of Marxism? It can’t be anything more than a futile protest against the human Total Depravity in the absence of God’s grace (TULIP anyone?)–and extinction becomes the inevitable consequence of that. So what is to be done other than retreat to the wild like Ted Kaczyinski and the hell with humanity, or strike a superior pose at faculty teas until the end comes?

    If we are to move Beyond Marx, let us at least do so in a systematic and scientific (or science-friendly) manner.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — February 20, 2020 @ 4:30 pm

  4. My article is a cautionary tale about a possible unpleasant collective future unfolding from unrestrained global warming and (driving it) unrestrained capitalism (by an exploding population, up to a point). A brief reference was made to our prehistoric past, by way of introduction. For much more on that past I can recommend this book: Cro-Magnon, How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans, by Brian Fagan (Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California – Santa Barbara), published by Bloomsbury Press, 2010, (2011 paperback), 295 pages, 40 illustrations, 16 color plates. The book covers major developments and events from 2 million years ago (Homo ergaster evolves out of earlier homo), to 10,000 years ago (increasingly diverse hunter-gatherer societies in Europe). Some of these events include: 200,000 ya (Neanderthals well established in Europe), 195,000 ya (Omo Kibish homo sapiens fossil, Ethiopia), 73,500 ya (Mount Toba eruption decimates humanity; creates a “genetic bottleneck”), 70,000 ya (End of mega droughts in Africa; First Last Glacial Maximum in Europe), c.55,000 ya (Fully modern humans spread out of Africa, date is uncertain), 42,500(?) ya (Cro-Magnons appear in Western Europe), 30,000(?) ya (Neanderthals become extinct), 21,500 ya (Last Glacial Maximum), c.12,000 ya (Agriculture and animal domestication in the Near East). Fagan has written books on the interactions of climate and ancient human societies, and in this one also explains and infers from the available evidence the types and extent of interactions between Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans (Cro-Magnons, in earlier terminology). A fascinating, involved and evolving subject, with genetic research leading to new insights and suggestions almost every day now. There is no doubt that many human instincts and automatic reactions have not changed since the inception of our species, and there is no doubt that many ways of thinking and conceptualizing have evolved, or matured, significantly among our kind (or, some of our kind) over the last 2000 centuries. Just what and how much has and has not changed in the human psyche and ego-consciousness (like politics) over those 2000 centuries is not something I have written about nor made public judgements on. Books like Fagan’s can feed a reader’s speculations on that knotty subject.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — February 20, 2020 @ 11:40 pm

  5. Manuel. I am still reading your piece and agree that the opening quote in my post does not apply to it very well. I could have read more carefully.

    The kind of thinking exemplified by the article I quote, on the other hand, is dead wrong, unhelpful, and endemic among self-denominated progressives. It’s dangerous.

    That danger warrants some alarm even though you ain’t it.

    Thanks for your work.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — February 21, 2020 @ 6:15 pm

  6. Addendum: Whatever some may hypothesize, the extinctifying of neanderthals etc. by h. sapiens, genocide or no genocide, is by no means an established scientific fact any more than the sentimental caricature of the virtuous, flower-waving Neanderthals with their ineffable spirituality, so much better than our crude brutality.

    This as opposed to the potential extinctifying of us by us which seems to be happening as we speak.

    Just let’s leave original sin out of the picture.

    We will either perish or find scientific remedies to which social and political revolution opens the door.

    Mammy Yokum has spoken.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — February 21, 2020 @ 6:25 pm

  7. Article makes some unlikely predictions.
    1. There will never be a nuclear global war because the elites are going to control more and more the military and they are not interested in wiping one another out. They know that the Earth with fewer people will be a paradise for them so they only want to wipe out the poor, regardless of their race.
    2. There won’t be any untreatable pandemic because the elites will easily find a cure and only administer it to them if it’ll be too expensive to give it to everybody. They may not even care anymore for the poor when they’ll become redundant by way of automation.
    3. Destructive events will progress much more slowly because of mitigations provided by technological advances.

    Comment by Riccardo Pusceddu — February 22, 2020 @ 12:50 am


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