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Confluence of Poetry, Evolution, Economics and Terrorism

Tennyson's famous couplet, 'The old order changeth yielding place to the new; and God fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world', while somewhat contemporary with Darwin's adaptation and change and Lewis Carroll's unintended statement by the Red Queen to Alice, that in the new world, one has to run faster to stay in the same place has applications in markets and has served well in politics until the advent of Al Qaeda and the new Islamic resurgence.

Tennyson, a firm deist did not intend to back Darwinism but realized some of its truths and even penned the words, 'Nature, red in tooth and claw'. He lacked the challenging curiosity of William Blake expressed in 'The Tiger' but set the tone of geopolitics, because of his influence on the bereaved Queen Victoria who presided over the apex era of the dominant British Empire of the time.

What the poet said was congruent to the evolutionary thesis that rapidly proliferating organisms by their mutations seek to escape the constraints, natural or artificial, that have been imposed on them by their hosts or their environment. The current rapid rise in hospital based infections by super-bugs like Vancomycin resistant Enterococci and Methicellin resistant Staphylococci, confirms Tennyson's and Darwin's prescient predictions. In fact, one of the explanations for the wasteful evolution of sexual propagation is the combinatorial mixing and matching of HLA antigens, to overcome the strategy of shorter life cycles and faster evolution of pathogens and parasites. The current worldwide scourge of HIV and drug resistant tuberculosis are the best examples of Tennyson's and Darwin's predictions, even though they vindicate malign and not benign orders.

Markets and economics for parallel reasons conform to the same laws. The strategies and technical patterns that successfully predicted the future after a certain time, fail to do so and often do the contrary of the accepted dogma. The current difficult to dislodge status of a fiat currency like the dollar despite dismal current account, trade and budget deficits and a failing military hegemony in Iraq and Afghanistan are classic examples. Thus Jacques Monod's belief in chance and necessity supersedes rationality and justice as the Quantum world and Realpolitik prove.

As an un-ascribed quotation from economics goes, 'In economics the questions remain the same , the answers change'. A diehard rightist Republican like Nixon put in a wage and price freeze and announced that now we have all become Keynesians. After WW2, The US was a true hegemon, with unrivaled economic and military supremacy and erected the Bretton-Woods structure with fixed exchange rates, restrictions on movement of capital and some latitude on the movement of labor, which led to a substantial growth in economies worldwide. The closed economies failed to enjoy this era and the protected economies of East Asia and Europe benefited tremendously from their prot'g'e status to establish an impenetrable wall against the virus of communism. America, from being a domestic and regional predator has now turned into a world predator. It is not its fault. Power like rivers take the path of least resistance as the writings of Chalmers Johnson in 'Perils Of Empire', Emannuel Todd in 'After The Empire', Andrew Bacevich in his book, Carroll in the 'House of War', Kinzer in 'Overthrow' and Chomsky in 'Understanding Power' have so perspicuously pointed out.

The inevitable curse of absolute power led to the profligate spending and desires of America to indulge in the Korean and Vietnam wars that led to bringing the hubris down to earth. Delusions of grandeur sustained on past nostalgia become the ruination of nations, as Britain proves and America will confirm. George Williams, amongst other evolutionary biologists has conclusively shown that evolution works not at the level of groups or species but individuals. Richard Dawkins has gone a step further and suggested that it works not at the individual level but at the gene level.

The current worldwide failure of Keynesian policies, whereby America continues to run deficits even during economic expansions, proves Tennyson's and Darwin's thesis. Evolution has always emphasized that xenophobia and fear of strangers has good survival value. In fact it is hardwired in the psyche of children who are afraid of strangers after the age of six months and cry when accosted by them even without hostile intentions.

Judith Harris, a much maligned, but objective analyst of personality development has emphasized that the relationship and socialization systems, as the basis of group coherence, but they are trumped by the status system which is more individual oriented and probably accounts for the personality differences between sibs and even monozygotic twins, who share a lot of their genetic and environmental endowment.

The West which is more advanced in such thinking because the crucible of evolution has been at a higher boiling point due to economic advantages, has succumbed to the advantages of individual progress. This is what accounts for the foolish policies of transferring manufacturing to China for cheap wages to increase the profits of US corporations, to obscenely enrich the executives by their honest or dishonest option awards, irrespective of the harm to the nation by strengthening a potential enemy or competitor.

The natural outcome of this selfishness is a reluctance to risk life or assets for the greater welfare of a cohesive group, like a nation. Earlier despite lacking a moral purpose or ethical grounds, the US had a relatively benign policy towards Asia and Africa while it practiced it unrestrained exploitative urges towards the rest of the America, the native Americans and the black population. After WW2, the intoxication and hubris of power led to its interference in Korea and Vietnam without just cause, even to the extent of considering using nuclear weapons. Despite the much touted special relationship between FDR and Churchill, it was clearly not one of equals and whether for personal or hegemonic reasons, FDR sought the abasement and dissolution of the British Empire to enshrine the primacy of American hegemony.

The current problem in the world is based on two important premises. The first is that historically, America has evolved psychologically to individual success, even at the cost of national decline, as evolution predicted about individuals and species. Thus America, as Madison, the only really educated founding father besides Hamilton, Jefferson and Adams, should have realized is the natural path of a republic. On the other hand due to a combination of energy related exploitation and the lesser educated and psychologically evolved status of the Islamic hordes, and their even greater delusions of nostalgic grandeur of the past, their thinking is not individualistic but based on group success. Their false belief in an afterlife and heaven with a final judgment of Allah, makes them oblivious to death and the current life. Evangelist Christians despite their being enamored with rapture, in reality are less willing to risk life or limb to achieve it. This is consistent with the hypocrisy of Christianity from its onset to the present and those of its followers, with significant exceptions. Furthermore the Muslims have less to lose, and hope to gain more and are thus more willing to sacrifice their lives.

There is a second equally important aspect to the current dilemma. America has currently elected a president with little intellectual capability and thus with a constricted analytic capability. As Peter Galbraith in his book has stated, the president was so ignorant and complacently ecstatic about his Iraq misadventure, that he was unaware that Islam has two major groups, Sunni and Shia. This proves that he is too distanced from reality to make any sensible decision. In fact he has been repeatedly rescued from his consistent and recurrent failures in real life by his connections, so that he has come to have a firm belief in his infallibility and divine mission. Just as the height of idiocy is to constantly continue doing the same thing while expecting a different favorable result, the height of incorrigible stupidity is to continue making blunders while expecting to be rescued by your father's friends. His utter confidence in such beliefs reveals his intellectual handicaps and ultimately the hopeless foolishness of the American electorate.

This, out of phase asynchronous state of Islam, constitutes a major threat to world peace, harmony and security. Islam, due to the exploitative nature of its prophet and the general stupidity of the masses of any religion, still thinks in terms of itsUmmah. We had a previous such social insect like society without a biological basis (forgetting the Spartans), in the Japanese and their Emperor. With time it has been attenuated and so will Islam, but not as long as the West continues the exploitation of the natural resources of its geographic extent. Only the social insects have chosen that path of evolution and have a sound evolutionary basis for such behavior. No honest thinking person can deny that the Islamic nations of the Middle East have had a raw deal due to Western exploitation for nearly 200 years and have had colluding corrupt kleptocrats thrust upon the public, as rulers. The newest biased American behavior regards Lebanon, the coming possible attacks on Iran and Syria, do not portend a better future or taming of the newest scourge as the recent developments in Britain prove and the mollycoddling of Pakistan, the nest of this scourge presages. It is time for all smart strategists to read Thucydides' 'Melian Dialogue' and learn its lessons from the final outcome of the Peloponnesian War.   


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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