Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ has been co-opted to justify all sorts of sociopathic behaviors, though Darwin himself was rather a nice guy. Survival of the fittest has actually been taken to mean survival of the most selfish, most brutal, the champion in the war of all against all. How did that work out for you, T Rex?
Yet it is constantly thrown at us as gospel. Almost every nature documentary has some males, with antlers or claws, duking it out to “pass on their DNA” Actually they have no concept of DNA, they just respond to female pheromones wafting on the breeze and get horny. The Selfish Gene theory was promoted by militant atheist Richard Dawkins. Just constant struggle for dominance, for the biggest bank account, for the crown of alpha baboon.
Jeffery Skilling’s favorite book was The Selfish Gene. He ran Enron by it’s philosophy and made employees compete by firing 10% of them at regular intervals. Enron was perhaps the biggest fraud every perpetrated in the U.S., robbing thousands of regular people and ending in jail terms for the crooks at the helm.
How about philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche’s magnificent strong man? The man Beyond Good and Evil? Who valiantly ignores the masses silly morality and ruthlessly (courageously said Nietzsche) seeks his own will? The Nazis loved him. So did Ian Brady, who courageously murdered five children to prove what an original thinker he was. See the Moors Murders for details if you can stand it. Brady spent his life in prison and the Nazis did not end well. But it ended badly not just for them-they spread immense agony among the rest of us.
We humans are social creatures; we have never been lone predators. The ‘fittest’ in the survival of the fittest are the most adaptable to change, not the most destructive. I watched a nature documentary depicting two mountain rams rearing up and smacking horns. The crack of their blows echoed across the mountains like gun shots. High drama. While they were busy bashing each other, a young male sneaked up and bred the ewe they were fighting over. Oops-whose DNA just got passed on?
I’m an artist, but writers and musicians face the same Darwinian challenge. Gatekeepers decide who is “successful”-publishers, record companies, rich folk. If they don’t promote you for (their) profit, you are not “successful.” We know very well that some amateurs are better at their craft than some professionals, but Gatekeepers set up contests to keep creatives competing, putting each other down, clawing each other and butting heads. I wish creatives could collaborate instead, and skip the Gatekeepers.
Perhaps I am naïve. But I can dream, Can’t I?