Centuries ago, American industrialists like Rockefeller and Carnegie took Charles Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest” to justify the exploitation of workers and the subsequent inequality that followed.
The long legs of these philosophies remains in effect today where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy individuals or families like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame.
This is the tangible expression in reality, that concentrating wealth among the few is what is best for our society as a whole. The government has also created laws that seem to support this premise as many wealthy people are afforded special treatment when it comes to paying an equitable share of taxes.
This issue was so famously championed by Warren Buffet the richest man in the world at one time, whose tax rate was less than his secretary who made $60,000 a year. This issue of wealth concentration was briefly in the news as the ninety nine per centers demonstrated against the one per centers who held most of the wealth in America. Curiously, the movement quickly lost energy and vanished.
Though often quoted and referenced, Darwin’s theories have been used in a manner that is inconsistent with his beliefs about the human race. In his 1871 book, The Descent of Man, Darwin offered that humans had succeeded as a species because of traits like cooperation, caring and selflessness. Darwin wrote that “those communities with the greater number of most sympathetic people would flourish and would rear the most offspring.”
Darwin believed that wealth sharing and cooperation were more consistent with his observations about human survival than the elitism and the rigid hierarchy that dominates contemporary corporate culture. Darwin’s early observations seem to explain how much of our culture is currently arranged.
New research by Psychologist Michael Tomasello has comingled 30 years of research to develop an evolutionary theory of human development. He identified two uniquely human elements that made humans interdependent and therefore fostered cooperation. Food was essential to the survival of our fledgling ancestors some two million years ago. Cooling climates lead to vast open plains that required our ancestors to adapt to this new environment or perish.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net