Random Thoughts

Evolutionary Constraints and Path Choices

Evolution is a tinkerer and not an engineer that plans a design. The human eye is a poorly designed camera. Any smart engineer starting from scratch would not interpose an unnecessary layer between the lens and the film on which the image is to be projected. The early eye had this layer of cells interposed, so evolution did the best of a bad design by making that layer transparent to light. It could not start from scratch or eliminate the hindering layer. Similarly when fins in whales and wings in bats had to evolve from the forelimbs with bones, it changed the structures to navigate in water and air, but was constrained to keep the bones and they reveal the atavistic antecedents of the ossified history of their ancestry. The development of the larynx (voice-box) and the pharynx precluded separate original passages and this is why we block of the larynx while swallowing and cannot swallow and talk at the same time. Occasional failure of coordination in closing the breathing passage leads to choking and coughing. Another example of poor design are the male external genitalia, which serve as the final common pathway for urine and semen. In frogs, the cloaca is the only exit point of urine, feces and sperms or ova.

There are similar political choice constraints due to an evolved mindset. The founding fathers initially had a visceral aversion to kingship and thus devised a Congress as the ruling body and a loose federation of states, but just like the Aesop's fable of the frogs, found that it led to chaos. Thus an unauthorized and some would say illegal, constitutional convention secretly formulated a second constitution and fell back to create a President with a veto, who was more like a king, though removable or able to be overruled by a two-thirds majority. The post was not made hereditary. There was amongst some for sometime genuine fear that John Adams would subvert the intentions and make John Quincy Adams his heir to the throne! This awe of and allegiance to the President is the reason why even today, many uneducated Americans not knowing the Constitution equate opposing the President or his foolish policies, misleading statements and sometimes outright hypocritical
untruths as unpatriotic or downright treason.

Another quandary that used to bother me is why anyone making less than hundred thousand dollars would vote Republican. They are not going to see any benefit from the tax cuts. The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with their pocketbook. The Southern whites voted for Democrats blindly from the Civil War to the recent past. They had not forgiven the Republicans for emancipation and the imposed defeat. It was the personal privation of the depression that made them vote for FDR. Thereafter a reversal took place with LBJ's successful passage of the civil rights bill. The fear of crime (attributed to the blacks) promoted by Nixon and Bush Sr. and that of welfare addiction promoted by Reagan, made ordinary non-affluent whites vote Republican. The almost total en bloc African-American vote for Democrats with equally total academic white support led to the derogatory connotation of the word LIBERAL. This with the greater religiosity of the South is why the whole South and much of the Midwest and West votes Republican. This leaves the Northeast, Florida, Lake states like Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and West coastal states of Washington, Oregon and California as the minority non-winnable electoral voting block for the Democrats.

Clinton's clever consultants formulated a centrist strategy that captured chunks of the South, while a phony and chameleon Gore couldn't even win his own state. The visceral though now overtly suppressed antipathy to African-Americans and their association in white minds with crime welfare and single motherhood without understanding that poverty discrimination and lack of education are more significant causes of the problems is the reason why foolish and ignorant non-affluent whites vote Republican. This constraint is of a mindset, but the mind is a product of evolution that evolved to be xenophobic on the Savannah and needs education and reflection to overcome gut feelings and actions.

Afghanistan is another example of an evolved mindset. It is a mountainous country of harsh terrain without adequate roads or communication. Thus different ethnic groups reside in different parts, without any homogenization. Loyalties have been ethnic, linguistic and to a greater extent even tribal. Anyone who has read its history of shifting alliances and the tragic aftermaths of the Sikh and British forays in the country would know that only a harsh and powerful ruling faction (I don't advocate the witch burning or stone hurling Taliban) can hold it together and perhaps it is best to divide it between Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Pakistan. This may help ameliorate the opium problem for the rest of the world. There is not enough education for the Afghans to see the folly of their path. No other country has the patience, perseverance or finances to keep kissing this frog till it turns into a prince!

Education allows one to see and consider other and opposing points of view. When a literate country like America cannot make the quantum leap, what hope is there for a backward looking Islamic purgatory like Afghanistan? Some if not all species are destined for extinction, so why not countries formed by cruel transgenic eugenic experiments of the two monsters of the British and Russian Empires (and now the American Empire) playing The Great Game.

As current news and events confirm, Iraq may face the same fate and Pakistan is the worst nightmare as it is a country without a raison d'etre except for a self-imposed backward looking borrowed nostalgia, which makes it the residence of the prophet as propounded by Dante. Baluchistan and NWFP are already Talibanized and one of these days the double dealing policies of Musharraf and ISI will cause the deluge and what then when the real, not imagined weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of the fruits of terrorist seeds that we sow? What can I say? We have no coherent policies or plans. We like the Pakistanis as by their pathological hatred of India, unify our country by hating first the Native Americans, the British, then the European powers, followed by the Germans, Japanese, Communists, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Muslims and now the French.

For the sake of brevity I will not elaborate on the Monroe Doctrine and resultant friendly despotic forays into tiny countries in our own hemisphere. We trumpet democracy, while practicing crony capitalism and making kings and dictators our bedfellows. It is not our fault. Our mindset makes us do it, as the philandering male told his wife. We have the evolutionary mixed feelings of love for kings and dictators. We want them and the periodic ability to remove them when we please, or if it suits our purpose!  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

Top | Random Thoughts

Views: 3411      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.