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dimanche, 07 avril 2013

Scientific American über die Realität von Rassen

Scientific American über die Realität von Rassen

By Michael Polignano

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

 Übersetzt von Deep Roots

English original here

[Scientific American, dessen Titelseite oben zu sehen ist, ist übrigens das amerikanische Mutterschiff der deutschen Ausgabe „Spektrum der Wissenschaft“, in der neben deutschen Beiträgen auch Übersetzungen aus Scientific American mit ein bis zwei Monaten Verzögerung erscheinen.]

Anmerkung des Herausgebers [Greg Johnson]:

Dieser Essay stammt aus Michael Polignanos Buch „Taking Our Own Side“, das hier [3] als Hardcover, Paperback und PDF erhältlich ist. [Anm. d. Ü.: Dieses Buch kann ich sehr empfehlen – ich habe es auch.]

Finnische Übersetzung hier [4].

16. Dezember 2003

Das wissenschaftliche Studium der Rassen befindet sich an einem Scheideweg. Durch die Kartierung des menschlichen Genoms wissen die Wissenschaftler mehr über Rasse und Rassenunterschiede als je zuvor. Aber da die Gesellschaft immer mehr in die Lüge von der Rassengleichheit investiert, wird es für Wissenschaftler immer schwerer, diese Wahrheiten auszusprechen. Außerdem haben egalitäre Spin-Doctors in einem verzweifelten Versuch, die schlimmen politischen Konsequenzen der rassischen Wahrheit abzuwenden, eine große Menge Desinformation über die kürzlichen genetischen Entdeckungen verbreitet.

Man sagt uns zum Beispiel, daß die Unterschiede zwischen den Rassen vom genetischen Standpunkt aus vernachlässigbar sind, eine Sache von bloß ein paar Genen. Daher sollen wir schlußfolgern, daß Rassenunterschiede vernachlässigbar sind, Punkt. Rassenunterschiede, sagt man uns, sollten überhaupt keine praktischen Implikationen haben.

Aber das ist genauso absurd, wie wenn man argumentieren würde, daß es – nachdem feste Objekte aus dem Blickwinkel der subatomaren Physik großteils leerer Raum sind – bloß reines Vorurteil ist, daß wir lieber auf einer Straße fahren statt über eine Klippe.

Die Wahrheit ist: aus kleinen genetischen Unterschieden erwachsen große physische, spirituelle, kulturelle und politische Unterschiede. Falls die Genetiker diese Unterschiede nicht sehen können, dann suchen sie vielleicht an der falschen Stelle.

Man sagt uns auch routinemäßig, daß es eine größere genetische Variationsbreite innerhalb der Rassen gibt als zwischen ihnen. Es kann einen Unterschied von 100 IQ-Punkten geben zwischen einer extrem klugen und einer extrem dummen weißen Person. Aber es gibt nur 30 Punkte Unterschied zwischen dem Durchschnitt der Weißen und dem der Schwarzen. Daher, sollen wir schlußfolgern, sollten wir uns nur mit Individuen befassen und die Gruppendurchschnitte ignorieren.

Das Problem bei diesem Argument ist, daß Gesellschaften nicht aus isolierten Individuen bestehen, denn Individuen sind Bestandteile und Produkte von Fortpflanzungspopulationen. Fortpflanzungspopulationen, die über einen langen Zeitraum isoliert und unterschiedlichen Umweltbedingungen ausgesetzt waren, werden zu verschiedenen Rassen.

Und wenn die durchschnittliche Intelligenz – oder irgendeine andere wichtige Eigenschaft – zweier Fortpflanzungspopulationen, die dasselbe geographische Gebiet teilen, sich dramatisch unterscheidet, dann muß es zu Konflikten kommen. Die überlegene Gruppe wird sich unvermeidlicherweise über den hemmenden Effekt der unterlegenen ärgern, und die unterlegenen Gruppen werden die unmöglichen Standards verübeln, die von der überlegenen aufgezwungen werden.

Aber die praktischen Implikationen der rassischen Wahrheit sind schwer zu leugnen, und die Wahrheit sickert durch, manchmal an unwahrscheinlichen Stellen. Ein Beispielsfall ist der Titelartikel der Ausgabe Dezember 2003 von Scientific American, das trotz seines Titels üblicherweise so politkorrekt ist wie jedes Nachrichten- oder Unterhaltungsmagazin. Die Titelseite zeigt sechs weibliche Gesichter, die verschiedenen Rassen anzugehören scheinen, zusammen mit dem Bildtext: „Does Race Exist? Science Has the Answer: Genetic Results May Surprise You.“ [„Gibt es Rassen? Die Wissenschaft hat die Antwort: Genetische Resultate könnten Sie überraschen.“] Im Inhaltsverzeichnis lesen wir: „Gibt es Rassen? Vom rein genetischen Standpunkt, nein. Trotzdem können genetische Informationen über die Abstammung von Individuen manchmal medizinisch relevant sein.“

Das hat meine Aufmerksamkeit geweckt. Wenn Rasse medizinisch relevant ist, warum ist sie dann nicht genauso auch psychologisch relevant, kulturell relevant, moralisch relevant und politisch relevant? Und wenn die Wissenschaft von der Genetik solche drängend relevanten Unterscheidungen als unreal oder winzig betrachtet, ist dann nicht etwas faul an der genetischen Wissenschaft oder an unserer Interpretation und Anwendung ihrer Befunde?

Die Autoren des Artikels, Michael Bamshad und Steve Olson, argumentieren, daß „Menschen unter Verwendung genetischer Daten grob in Gruppen sortiert werden können.“ Diese Gruppen scheinen weiters geographisch getrennt zu sein – zumindest vor den massiven Bevölkerungsverschiebungen der Moderne. Nun ist dies ein riesiges Eingeständnis, denn die Existenz genetisch verschiedener Menschengruppen ist gewiß ein Teil dessen, was mit „Rasse“ gemeint ist, und genau das, was von jenen verleugnet wird, die behaupten, daß Rasse bloß ein „Sozialkonstrukt“ ist.

Die Basis für die Behauptung, daß Rassen „vom rein genetischen Standpunkt aus“ nicht existieren, ist der Konflikt zwischen genetischen Klassifizierungen und traditionellen rassischen Kategorien. Solche Kategorien beruhen nicht auf einer Analyse der Gene (Genotyp), sondern auf dem sichtbaren Ausdruck dieser Gene (Phänotyp). Dies mag stimmen, aber es beweist nicht, daß „Rasse nicht existiert“. Es beweist nur, daß es einen Konflikt zwischen genotypischen und phänotypischen Rassedefinitionen gibt.

Zum Beispiel merken die Autoren an, daß sub-saharische Afrikaner und australische Aborigines ähnlich aussehen und sich ähnlich verhalten, daß aber genetische Marker anzeigen, daß sich ihre Vorfahren vor langer Zeit getrennt haben. Aber der Konflikt zwischen den Klassifikationsschemen ist eher real als scheinbar, denn Australoide und Negroide sehen sich nur für das ungeschulte Auge ähnlich. Jeder, der Mitglieder der beiden Gruppen miteinander vergleicht, wird leicht die Unterschiede sehen, und mit ausreichend Erfahrung ist es buchstäblich unmöglich, sie miteinander zu verwechseln.

Die Autoren merken auch an, daß die sozialen Rassedefinitionen von Region zu Region variieren: „jemand, der in den Vereinigten Staaten als ‚schwarz’ klassifiziert wird… könnte in Brasilien als ‚weiß’ betrachtet werden und als ‚farbig’… in Südafrika.“ Aber dies ist ebenfalls ein Versuch, die Unterscheidung nach Phänotyp zu diskreditieren, indem man nur auf ihre gröbsten Formen verweist. Jedoch können phänotypische Klassifizierungsschemen in Gesellschaften mit einem großen Maß an Rassenvermischung recht komplex sein, um die Komplexitäten der zugrundeliegenden Genotypen wiederzugeben:

Die frühen französischen Kolonisten in Saint-Domingue [heute: Haiti] identifizierten 128 unterschiedliche Rassentypen, die recht präzise nach einer mathematischen Skala definiert wurden, welche durch einfache Berechnungen der Abstammungsanteile bestimmt wurde. Sie reichten vom „wahren“ Mulatten (halb weiß, halb schwarz) durch das Spektrum von marabou, sacatra, quarterón bis hin zum sang-mêlé (Mischblut: 127 Teile weiß und ein Teil schwarz)… Die Soziologin Micheline Labelle hat 22 rassische Hauptkategorien und 98 Unterkategorien gezählt (für variierende Haartypen, Gesichtsstrukturen, Farbe und andere Unterscheidungsfaktoren), die in den 1970ern unter Haitis Mittelklasse in Port-au-Prince verwendet wurden. Innerhalb jeder Kategorie waren die Worte oft genauso einfallsreich, wie sie beschreibend waren: café au lait („Milchkaffe“), bonbon siro („Zuckersirup“), ti canel („ein wenig Zimt“), ravet blanch („weißer Kakerlak“), soley levan („aufgehende Sonne“), banane mûre („reife Banane“), brun pistache („erdnußbraun“), mulâtre dix-huit carats („18karätiger Mulatte“)… [1]

Ein tieferes Problem mit der Betonung des Genotyps durch die Autoren ist, daß, auch wenn unterschiedliche Genotypen zu ähnlichen Phänotypen führen können – die Natur kann verschiedene Mittel einsetzen, um dasselbe Ziel zu erreichen – die Kräfte der Evolution sich keinen Deut um spezifische Genotypen scherten, sie „scherten“ sich nur darum, wie sich jene Genotypen in einem Individuum ausdrückten. Daher ist der Phänotyp vom praktischen Gesichtspunkt aus wichtiger als der Genotyp.

Die Autoren geben jedoch zu, daß phänotypische Rassenkategorien gut funktionieren, um Gruppen nach ihrer Neigung zu gewissen Krankheiten zu unterteilen, wie Sichelzellenanämie (am häufigsten unter Afrikanern) und zystische Fibrose (am häufigsten unter Europäern). Die Allele für Sichelzellenanämie und zystische Fibrose nahmen an Häufigkeit zu, weil ihre Träger (d. h. jene mit einer Kopie vom Vater oder der Mutter; zwei Kopien sind für die Krankheit nötig) gegenüber parasitischen Mikroorganismen resistent waren, die jeweils in Afrika und Europa vorkommen. Ein weiteres Beispiel ist, daß bewiesen wurde, daß derselbe Polymorphismus im CCR5-Gen den Krankheitsverlauf von AIDS bei Weißen bremst, aber bei Schwarzen beschleunigt.

Wegen der zunehmenden genetischen Beweise für die medizinische Relevanz von Rasse hat die US Food and Drug Administration der unvermeidlichen Kontroverse getrotzt und im Januar 2003 empfohlen, daß Forscher bei klinischen Versuchen Rassedaten sammeln.

Daher die extrem vorsichtige Schlußfolgerung der Autoren: „In Fällen, wo die Zugehörigkeit zu einer geographisch oder kulturell definierten Gruppe mit gesundheitsbezogenen genetischen Merkmalen korreliert worden ist, könnte es wichtig sein, etwas über die Gruppenzugehörigkeit eines Individuums zu wissen.“

Dies ist ein weiteres riesiges Eingeständnis. Denn wenn rassische Unterschiede medizinisch relevant sind, warum sind sie dann nicht genauso auch kulturell, sozial und politisch relevant? Zum Beispiel bedeutet die Tatsache, daß Neger im Durchschnitt mehr Testosteron produzieren als andere Rassen, daß schwarze Männer ein höheres Risiko für Prostatakrebs haben. Aber höhere Testosteronproduktion bedeutet auch, daß schwarze Männer mehr zu aggressivem Verhalten neigen. Wenn also Ärzte schwarze Männer rassisch profilieren sollten, warum sollten das dann nicht auch Polizisten tun?

Verglichen mit Weißen, haben Schwarze auch einen niedrigeren IQ und ein niedrigeres Empathieniveau, ein schwächeres Gefühl für persönliche Leistungsfähigkeit und Verantwortung, eine größere Neigung zu Soziopathie und Psychosen, weniger Verhaltenshemmungen, größere Impulsivität, höhere sexuelle Aktivität und geringere elterliche Investition etc. Sicherlich haben diese rassischen Unterschiede ebenfalls wichtige praktische Implikationen.

Wenn man die nervösen Einschränkungen und vorsichtigen Wortklaubereien der Autoren wegschnippelt, dann gibt „Does Race Exist?“ zu, daß es eine genetische Basis für Rassenunterschiede gibt und daß diese Unterschiede praktische Bedeutung haben. Dies ist ein ermutigendes Zeichen im heutigen Klima der ideologischen Rassenverleugnung™. Offen gesagt ist es bemerkenswert, daß es überhaupt in Scientific American veröffentlicht wurde.

Eine Erklärung dafür, daß es veröffentlicht wurde, könnte man im Leitartikel „Racing to Conclusions“ von John Rennie und Ricki Rusting finden. Sie beginnen damit, daß sie das Scheitern von Proposition 54 in Erinnerung rufen, der kürzlichen kalifornischen Wählerinitiative, die der Regierung auf vielen Gebieten verboten hätte, rassische Daten zu sammeln. Obwohl Proposition 54 die Sammlung rassischer Daten für Gesundheitszwecke ausdrücklich erlaubte, behaupteten viele Ärzte und medizinische Gruppen, daß die Maßnahme Bemühungen behindern würde, Krankheiten nachzuverfolgen und zu behandeln, die sich auf verschiedene Rassen unterschiedlich auswirken. Die Redakteure stellen diese düsteren Prophezeiungen in Frage, nicht weil Proposition 54 ihre Besorgnisse zerstreut hätte, sondern weil sie den Artikel von Bamshad/Olson mißverstanden und fälschlicherweise behaupten, daß seine Autoren fest gegen die Verwendung rassischer Klassifizierung in der Medizin seien. Man fragt sich, ob der Artikel in Druck gegangen wäre, wenn die Redakteure ihn verstanden hätten!

Die Redakteure zitieren die Schwierigkeiten rassischer Klassifizierung, besonders der Klassifizierung gemischtrassiger Individuen. Dann beklagen sie, daß „Rasse in der Forschung als Surrogat für genetische Unterschiede“ benutzt wird, als ob die Korrelation zwischen den beiden bedeutungslos wäre. Sie verweisen auf die Empfehlung der FDA und zitieren J. Craig Venters Bemerkung: „Die selbstzugeschriebene Rasse als Surrogat dafür zu verwenden, eine Person direkt auf ein relevantes Merkmal zu testen, ist ähnlich, als würde man das Durchschnittsgewicht einer Gruppe aufzeichnen, statt jedes Individuum zu wiegen.“

Natürlich kann man von Venter erwarten, daß er gegen rassische Klassifizierungen in der Medizin ist. Damit ist er nicht nur politisch korrekt, sondern nimmt auch eine Position ein, von der er beträchtlich profitieren könnte, nachdem seine Firma Celera die erste war, die das menschliche Genom sequenziert hat und wahrscheinlich die erste wäre, die das individuelle Gensquenzieren massenmarktfähig machen würde.

Die Redakteure lassen jede Erwähnung der Vorteile rassischer Klassifizierung in der Medizin weg. Wer den Hauptartikel nicht liest, würde unrichtigerweise schlußfolgern, daß Rasse in der Medizin keine Verwendung hat. Noch ein Beispiel dafür wie die Medien die Wahrheit verdrehen und verzerren. Zum Glück kann jeder, der den Artikel liest, die Verdrehung durchschauen. Wenn solch eine Geschichte jedoch von den Breitenmedien gebracht würde, dann könnten Sie sicher sein, daß die Verdrehung alles ist, was das Publikum bekommen würde.

Das Titelbild riecht ebenfalls nach politisch korrekter Rassenverleugnung™. Die Bilder von sechs attraktiven Frauengesichtern aus scheinbar verschiedenen Rassen wurden von Nancy Burson unter Verwendung eines Morphing-Programms geschaffen, das dazu bestimmt ist, verschiedene Rassenmerkmale zu simulieren. Nur die blonde, blauäugige Frau ist echt. Die anderen Bilder wurden durch Abänderung ihres Bildes geschaffen. Aber man kann sehen, daß die darunterliegende Knochenstruktur, Lippen und Nase der Frau unverändert bleiben, obwohl diese zwischen den Rassen beträchtlich variieren. Nur Hautfarbe, Augenfarbe und Haarfarbe scheinen zu variieren. Die offensichtliche Botschaft des Fotos ist, daß Rasse nur eben bis unter die Haut geht. Die Welt besteht bloß aus Weißen mit unterschiedlichen Farbschattierungen. Was kann das schon schaden?

[5]

LionAndLamb.png

 

Das erinnert mich an ein Bild in einem Bilderbuch, das ich als Kind gesehen habe, wo Löwen sich an Lämmer kuscheln und Wölfe mit Schafen tanzen, wo allein die äußerliche Erscheinung Tiere unterscheidet, die ansonsten tief drinnen alle gleich sind und daher in der Lage, in Glück und Harmonie zu leben.

Anscheinend hängen manche Erwachsene immer noch solchem Wunschdenken an.

Source: http://fjordman.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/scientific-american-uber-die-realitat-von-rassen/ [6]


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/06/scientific-american-uber-die-realitat-von-rassen/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/ScientificAmericanRace.jpg

[2] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/05/scientific-american-on-the-reality-of-race/

[3] hier: http://www.counter-currents.com../2010/12/taking-our-own-side-paperback/

[4] hier: http://www.counter-currents.com../2011/05/scientific-american-rodun-todellisuudesta/

[5] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/LionAndLamb.png

[6] http://fjordman.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/scientific-american-uber-die-realitat-von-rassen/: http://fjordman.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/scientific-american-uber-die-realitat-von-rassen/

vendredi, 22 mars 2013

UMBERTO GALIMBERTI

Galimberti(1).jpeg

UMBERTO GALIMBERTI

A cura di Simone Tunesi

Ex: http://www.filosofico.net/

Nato a Monza nel 1942, Umberto Galimberti è stato dal 1976 professore incaricato di Antropologia Culturale e dal 1983 professore associato di Filosofia della Storia. Dal 1999 è professore ordinario all’università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, titolare della cattedra di Filosofia della Storia.

Nelle sue opere più importanti come Heidegger, Jaspers e il tramonto dell'Occidente (1975), Psichiatria e Fenomenologia (1979), Il corpo (1983), La terra senza il male. Jung dall'inconscio al simbolo (1984), Gli equivoci dell’anima (1987) e Psiche e techne. L'uomo nell'età della tecnica (1999), Galimberti indaga il rapporto che effettivamente sussiste tra l’uomo e la società della tecnica.

Memore della lezione di Emanuele Severino (di cui è stato allievo) e di Heidegger, Galimberti sostiene che nelle condizioni attuali l’uomo non è più al centro dell’universo come intendeva l’età umanistica: tutti i concetti chiave della filosofia (individuo, identità, libertà, salvezza, verità, senso, scopo, natura, etica, politica, religione, storia) dovranno essere riconsiderati in funzione della società tecnologica attuale.

Al centro del discorso filosofico di Galimberti c’è la tecnica, che secondo il filosofo è il tratto comune e caratteristico dell’occidente. La tecnica è il luogo della razionalità assoluta, in cui non c’è spazio per le passioni o le pulsioni, è quindi il luogo specifico in cui la funzionalità e l’organizzazione guidano l’azione.

Noi continuiamo a pensare la tecnica come uno strumento a nostra disposizione, mentre la tecnica è diventata l’ambiente che ci circonda e ci costituisce secondo quelle regole di razionalità (burocrazia, efficienza, organizzazione) che non esitano a subordinare le esigenze proprie dell’uomo alle esigenze specifiche dell’apparato tecnico. Tuttavia ancora non ci rendiamo conto che il rapporto uomo-tecnica si sia capovolto, e per questo ci comportiamo ancora come l’uomo pre-tecnologico che agiva in vista di scopi iscritti in un orizzonte di senso, con un bagaglio di idee e un corredo di sentimenti in cui si riconosceva. Ma la tecnica non tende a uno scopo, non promuove un senso, non apre scenari di salvezza, non redime, non svela verità: la tecnica funziona e basta.

Il punto cruciale sta nel fatto che tutto ciò che finora ci ha guidato nella storia (sensazioni, percezioni, sentimenti) risulta inadeguato nel nuovo scenario. Come "analfabeti emotivi" assistiamo all'irrazionalità che scaturisce dalla perfetta razionalità dell'organizzazione tecnica, priva ormai di qualunque senso riconoscibile. Non abbiamo i mezzi intellettuali per comprendere la nostra posizione nel cosmo, per questo motivo ci adattiamo sempre di più all’apparato e ci adagiamo sulle comodità che la tecnica ci offre. Ciò di cui necessitiamo è un ampliamento psichico capace di compensare la nostra attuale inadeguatezza.

Inadeguato non è solo il nostro modo di pensare, inadeguata è anche l’etica tradizionale (cristiana e kantiana in particolare): le diverse etiche classiche, infatti, ponevano l’uomo al centro dell’azione, per cui  Kant dice di non trattare l’uomo come mezzo ma sempre come fine. Ma oggi questo è smentito dai fatti dell’apparato, infatti l’uomo (per usare un’espressione di Heidegger) è la materia prima più importante, è ciò di cui la tecnica si serve per funzionare. La scienza , da quando  è al servizio della tecnica e del suo procedere, non è più al servizio dell’uomo, piuttosto è l’uomo al servizio della tecno-scienza e non solo come funzionario dell’apparato tecnico come gli esponenti della Scola di Francoforte andavano segnalando sin dagli anni '50, ma come materia prima. L’etica, di fronte alla tecnica, diventa pat-etica, perché come fa a impedire alla tecnica che può di non fare ciò che può? E l’etica, nell’età della tecnica, celebra tutta la sua impotenza. Infatti, finora abbiamo elaborato delle etiche in grado di regolare esclusivamente i rapporti tra gli uomini. Queste etiche, religiose o laiche che fossero, controllavano solo le intenzioni degli uomini, non gli effetti delle loro azioni, perché i limiti della tecnica a disposizione non lasciava intravedere effetti catastrofici. Anche l’etica della responsabilità che affiancò l’etica dell’intenzione (Kant) ha, oggi i suoi limiti. A formularla fu Max Weber (poi la riprese Jonas nel suo celebre teso Il principio di responsabilità) che però la limitò al controllo degli effetti "quando questi sono prevedibili". Sennonché è proprio della scienza e della tecnica produrre effetti "imprevedibili". E allora anche l’etica della responsabilità è costretta a gettare la spugna. Oggi siamo senza un’etica che sia efficace per controllare lo sviluppo della tecnica che, come è noto, non tende ad altro scopo che non sia il proprio potenziamento. La tecnica, infatti, non ha fini da realizzare, ma solo risultati su cui procedere, risultati che non nascono da scopi che ci si è prefissi, ma che scaturiscono dalle risultanze delle sue procedure.

Per Galimberti viviamo in una società al servizio dell’apparato tecnologico e non abbiamo i mezzi per contrastarlo, soprattutto perché abbiamo la stessa etica di cent’anni fa: cioè un’etica che regola il comportamento dell’uomo tra gli uomini. Tuttavia quello che oggi serve è una morale che tenga conto anche della natura, dell’aria, dell’acqua, degli animali e di tutto ciò che è natura.

Riprendendo importanti autori come Marx, Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcuse, Freud, Severino e Anders e coinvolgendo discipline quali l’antropologia filosofica e la psicologia , Galimberti sostiene che oggi l’uomo occidentale dipende completamente dall’apparato tecnico, è un uomo-protesi come sosteneva già Freud, e questa dipendenza non sembra potersi spezzare. Tutto rientra nel sistema tecnico, qualsiasi azione o gesto quotidiano l’uomo compie ha bisogno del sostegno di questo apparato. Ormai viviamo nel paradosso, infatti se l’uomo vuole salvare se steso e il pineta dalle conseguenze del predominio della tecnica (inquinamento, terrorismo, povertà, etc.) lo può fare solo con l’aiuto della tecnica: progettando depuratori per le fabbriche, cibi confezionati, grattacieli antiaerei e così via. Il circolo è vizioso e uscirne, se non impossibile, sembra improbabile, visto soprattutto la tendenza delle società occidentali. Una speranza sarebbe quella di riuscire a mantenere le differenze tra scienza e tecnica; se riusciamo a salvaguardare una differenza tra il pensare e il fare, la scienza potrebbe diventare l´etica della tecnica. La tecnica procede la sua corsa sulla base del "si fa tutto ciò che si può fare". La scienza, che è il luogo pensante, potrebbe diventare, invece, il luogo etico della tecnica. In questo senso va recuperato il valore umanistico della scienza: la scienza al servizio dell’umanità e non al servizio della tecnica. La scienza potrebbe diventare il luogo eminente del pensiero che pone un limite. Perché la scienza ha un´attenzione umanistica. Promuove un agire in vista di scopi. Mentre la tecnica è un fare senza scopi, è solo un fare prodotti.

Il valore più profondo del pensiero di Galimberti consiste, appunto, nel tentativo di fondare una nuova filosofia dell'azione che ci consenta, se non di dominare la tecnica, almeno di evitare di essere da questa dominati.

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dimanche, 09 octobre 2011

Eléments nietzschéens pour une critique des biotechnologies

Eléments nietzschéens pour une critique des biotechnologies

http://www.granarolo.fr/textes

 

Philippe GRANAROLO

[ Article publié pour la première fois dans l’ouvrage collectif Génétique, biomédecine et société, sous la direction de Philippe Pedrot, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2005]
 
 
La philosophie de Nietzsche contient, comme chacun sait, une thématique majeure : celle du dépassement de l’humain, auquel Zarathoustra nous exhorte sitôt redescendu de sa caverne. Un siècle et quelques décennies plus tard, ce dépassement est présenté par bon nombre de nos biologistes comme l’un des axes fondamentaux de leurs programmes de recherche, quand ce n’est pas comme l’un des principaux chantiers d’ores et déjà ouverts. Dans un ouvrage de vulgarisation largement commenté, le professeur Bernard Debré annonce comme inéluctable la prochaine apparition des types biologiques qui prendront la relève de l’ « homo sapiens » [1]. La parenté entre ces programmes et la pensée nietzschéenne semble évidente pour la plupart, même si tous les commentateurs ne partagent pas nécessairement les certitudes provocatrices d’un Peter Sloterdijk dont les « règles pour le parc humain » [2] ont suscité de très vives polémiques.
Il est certes incontestable que, sorties de leur contexte, d’innombrables maximes nietzschéennes semblent se prêter aisément à une reprise et à une adoption par les partisans de l’application à l’humain des biotechnologies. Au-delà des simples formules, Nietzsche et les biologistes du XXIème siècle ont en commun, nous ne saurions le dissimuler, un certain nombre de convictions que nous commencerons par mettre en évidence. Mais s’arrêter là, n’est-ce pas gommer scandaleusement toute l’entreprise généalogique de Frédéric Nietzsche ? N’est-ce pas, en particulier, accorder à la techno-science, aussi bien qu’aux institutions politiques chargées de mettre en œuvre ses programmes, une puissance créatrice que le philosophe leur a refusée ? Il nous faudra donc, dans un deuxième temps de notre exposé, mettre à jour les éléments qui interdisent, selon nous, de faire de Nietzsche le philosophe des biotechnologies. Ce serait néanmoins le trahir que de durcir cette opposition pour faire de lui un adversaire éternel et irréductible des transformations que rendent possibles les biotechnologies. Nous terminerons donc notre recherche en nous interrogeant à la fois sur ce que l’on nous autorisera à dénommer un « principe nietzschéen de précaution », et sur les conditions qui pourraient un jour rendre acceptables la naissance d’une « biurgie » [3] s’inscrivant dans la perspective de la surhumanité.
 
 
I) Nietzsche eugéniste ?
 
1) L’homme comme figure transitoire
            
      Le premier texte philosophique écrit par Nietzsche alors qu’il avait à peine dix-sept ans (Fatum et histoire) inscrit ses premières intuitions dans le cadre de ce qu’il convient de qualifier d’évolutionnisme, aussi ambigu que soit ce terme. Pour preuve ces quelques interrogations : « L’homme ne pourrait-il pas être seulement le développement de la pierre à travers le médium de la plante et de l’animal ? Aurions-nous alors déjà atteint ici la perfection, n’y aurait-il pas ici aussi une histoire ? Ce devenir éternel ne prend-il jamais fin ? » [4], interrogations qui ne le quitteront jamais plus. Vingt ans plus tard, son porte-parole Zarathoustra chantera l’au-delà de l’humain. Soixante ans après, le théoricien de l’eugénisme George Vacher de Lapouge s’exprimera en ces termes en 1921 lors du second congrès international d’eugénisme : « Américains, il dépend de vous, je l’affirme fortement, de sauver la civilisation et de faire de vous un peuple de demi-dieux ». Ce peuple de demi-dieux, dont les eugénistes du début du XXème siècle annoncent la venue, ne fait-il pas écho au rêve nietzschéen du Surhumain ? Comment ne pas classer Nietzsche dans la tribu des eugénistes dont la techno-science du XXIème siècle viendrait combler les vœux ?
 
2) La désacralisation de la nature
 
Un second thème nietzschéen s’inscrit dans la même perspective : celui de la désacralisation de la nature. Arrachée à tout providentialisme, livrée au jeu du hasard sans qu’aucune finalité ni qu’aucune téléologie ne mènent le bal, la nature conçue par Nietzsche, et au sein de cette nature, l’ensemble de la biosphère, semblent bien s’identifier à une simple matière première dont notre puissance créatrice va s’emparer. Lorsque Gilbert Hottois écrit : « L’humanité n’apparaît plus comme un donné à servir et à parfaire, mais comme une matière indéfiniment plastique » [5], ne reprend-il pas, jusque dans son vocabulaire, ces propos de Par-delà Bien et Mal : « L’homme est matière, fragment, superflu, glaise, fange, non-sens, chaos ; mais l’homme est aussi créateur, sculpteur, dur marteau, spectateur divin et repos du septième jour : comprenez-vous cette différence ? » [6]. Un autre aspect de cette désacralisation du vivant consiste à dénoncer le scandale que représente le décalage entre les soins mis par nos ancêtres à améliorer l’animal et l’anarchie qui règne sur la plan de la procréation humaine, le scandale de l’opposition frappante entre la passion des hommes pour l’amélioration des espèces animales et le désintérêt qu’ils portent au perfectionnement de l’espèce humaine. Libérée de l’emprise du divin par le déclin des croyances religieuses, la procréation humaine n’a pas pour autant suscité nos préoccupations. Il nous faut cependant remarquer que depuis les écrits de Cabanis au XVIIIème siècle, ce scandale n’a cessé d’être très régulièrement dénoncé dans le camp matérialiste, et qu’à l’époque de Nietzsche une telle dénonciation était d’une grande banalité. Tout comme était dans l’air du temps l’inquiétude d’une dégénérescence de l’espèce humaine, dont Herder, Gobineau, Vacher de Lapouge furent quelques-uns des plus célèbres pourfendeurs : Nietzsche, quand épisodiquement il fustige à son tour les dangers d’une possible dégénérescence de l’espèce humaine, exprime moins une pensée personnelle qu’il ne se fait l’écho de cette préoccupation alors extrêmement répandue.
 
3) L’âge des expériences
 
Quant aux textes prophétiques des années 1878-1881, ils sont nombreux à dresser le panorama d’une civilisation à venir en laquelle l’humanité acquérra la maîtrise de son devenir biologique, maîtrise fondée sur les acquis de la science. Nietzsche ne voit pas comment la maîtrise prévisible de la terre pourrait ne pas s’accompagner d’une exploitation scientifique de tous les moyens d’améliorer l’espèce humaine. La libération de l’esprit rendra peu à peu intolérables les hasards de la procréation, et il ne saurait faire de doute que, d’une manière ou d’une autre, l’humanité à venir voudra réguler cette loterie qui, depuis la nuit des temps, a dû multiplier à l’infini les numéros pour laisser apparaître quelques billets gagnants. S’il lui arrive de tenir sur ces questions des propos naïfs ou inquiétants, imaginant par exemple des transplantations de population destinées à éradiquer certaines maladies héréditaires [7], c’est tout simplement qu’à l’instar de ses contemporains, il sous-estime la puissance de la science et n’a pas la moindre intuition des possibilités manipulatoires que commence à nous apporter aujourd’hui une biologie devenue génie génétique.
 
 
 
Notons toutefois que s’il est possible de qualifier, au sens large, ces prophéties d’ « eugénistes », elles ne prennent jamais la forme d’une transformation planifiée et politiquement organisée. Qu’en particulier à aucun moment on ne saurait y repérer la moindre coloration raciste, le philosophe considérant même que cette application de la biologie à l’amélioration de l’humain contribuera puissamment à réduire « la vieille pleutrerie des races, des luttes raciales, des fièvres nationales » [8]. Nietzsche semble surtout intéressé par les progrès de la connaissance que rendront possibles ces expérimentations. Certaines de ses annonces sont d’une étonnante actualité. Je ne retiendrai ici que la suivante : « L’époque des expérimentations ! Les affirmations de Darwin sont à vérifier – par des expérimentations ! De même la naissance d’organismes supérieurs à partir des plus bas. Il faut inaugurer des expérimentations pour plusieurs millénaires ! Eduquer des singes pour en faire des hommes ! » [9]. Si nous avons qualifié ce type de textes de « prophétiques », c’est qu’il ne s’agit en effet de rien d’autre que d’annonces concernant les prochains siècles, de rien d’autre que de l’énonciation de ce qui résultera nécessairement des capacités que l’humanité est en train d’acquérir. « L’humanité peut d’ores et déjà faire absolument d’elle-même ce qu’elle veut », affirme avec la plus grande netteté en 1879 un aphorisme d’Opinions et sentences mêlées [10].
 
II) Eléments critiques
 
Enonciation de ce qui ne manquera pas de résulter de nos capacités, venons-nous de dire. Mais dans quelle direction seront-elles mises en œuvre ? « Libre pour quoi ? », se demande Zarathoustra [11], une fois qu’il a pris la mesure de ce dont l’homme s’est libéré. Laissons la parole à Pierre-André Taguieff, qui, préfaçant le récent ouvrage de Catherine Bachelard-Jobard, L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, que l’on peut considérer dès à présent comme un texte de référence, s’interroge en ces termes : « Que peut et que doit faire l’espèce humaine de ce pouvoir d’auto-transformation dont elle semble désormais dotée ? » [12]. Oublier la présence, dans l’œuvre nietzschéenne, des multiples interrogations préfigurant celle de Taguieff et de certains de nos contemporains, c’est mutiler scandaleusement la pensée nietzschéenne. C’est parce que Nietzsche est aussi prophète que ses commentateurs prennent trop souvent le factuel de la prévision pour une projection de la volonté.
 
1) L’antifinalisme nietzschéen
 
Au premier chef, ce qu’oublient ceux qui veulent trouver chez Nietzsche les plus anciens appels aux manipulations biologiques de l’humain, c’est la constante et rigoureuse dénonciation de tout finalisme d’un bout à l’autre de son œuvre. L’humanité, répète-t-il, n’a à ce jour aucun but au service duquel elle pourrait consacrer ses capacités transformatrices. On trouvera en particulier dans Aurore plusieurs aphorismes présentant le mixte caractéristique de l’époque qui s’ouvre, mélange de libération liée à la destruction des impératifs anciens et d’incapacité radicale d’une orientation téléologique. « C’est seulement si l’humanité avait un but universellement reconnu que l’on pourrait proposer : «il faut agir comme ceci ou comme cela ». Pour l’instant il n’existe aucun but de ce genre » [13]. Cette absence, si elle déstabilise, comme cela est généralement compris, toute prétention moralisante, contribue tout autant à interdire de supposer la présence chez notre philosophe d’un appel à mettre notre savoir au service d’une amélioration planifiée de l’espèce humaine.
 
Ce qui rendrait plus dérisoire encore un tel appel, c’est l’incapacité où nous sommes, selon Nietzsche, de prétendre à la possession d’un critère de perfection qui nous servirait d’étalon dans nos entreprises transformatrices. Les fragments non publiés abondent en paragraphes fustigeant la prétention philosophique à dessiner l’horizon vers lequel l’humanité chemine, que cette prétention prenne la forme de la philosophie hégélienne de l’histoire, ou celle, plus modeste en apparence, de la téléologie kantienne. Parmi ces fragments, ces quelques lignes de l’automne 1881 : « L’humanité n’a pas plus de but que n’en avaient les sauriens, mais elle a une évolution : c’est-à-dire que son terme n’a pas plus d’importance qu’un point quelconque de son parcours ! Par conséquent on ne saurait définir le bien en en faisant le moyen d’atteindre le « but de l’humanité ». Serait-ce ce qui prolongerait l’évolution le plus longtemps possible ? Ou ce qui la porterait à son point le plus haut ? Mais cela présupposerait derechef un critère pour mesurer ce point le plus haut ! Et pourquoi le plus longtemps possible ? Ou le minimum de déplaisir dans l’évolution ? C’est à cela qu’aujourd’hui tout aspire – mais cela signifie aussi l’évolution la moins puissante possible, un auto-affaiblissement général, un terne adieu à l’humanité antérieure, jusqu’au point limite où les animaux redeviennent nos maîtres ! » [14]. Tout aussi incapable de proposer un critère de perfection qu’à l’époque de Nietzsche, nos contemporains biologistes ne savent imaginer qu’une possible addition de propriétés nouvelles en guise de perfectionnement. Bernard Debré, déjà cité, envisage que l’on pourrait un jour « améliorer l’homme en lui greffant un gène de la vue de la chouette pour voir la nuit, ou de l’ouïe du dauphin pour percevoir des ultrasons » [15] ? Qu’il nous permette de lui recommander la lecture de Nietzsche qui l’a de loin précédé, en présentant la rencontre de son Zarathoustra avec une créature réduite à l’état d’oreille, mais d’une très performante oreille [16], préfiguration ironique de l’homme-dauphin du professeur Debré.
 
2) Science, Etat et uniformisation
 
Autre oubli, plus mutilant encore, celui de la mise en évidence par Nietzsche, en ses analyses les plus originales, du mouvement général de l’histoire comme mouvement uniformisant. Présentes dans l’œuvre publiée, ces analyses sont souvent plus radicales encore dans l’œuvre posthume. En 1878, Nietzsche écrit dans ses cahiers : « Le développement à peu près uniforme de la raison et du sentiment est le but de la civilisation […] C’est là que réside la signification de puissances mondiales comme l’Empire romain, le christianisme, avant tout la science […] L’histoire est le récit des moyens, des canalisations et des voies de communication menant peu à peu à l’uniformité » [17].
 
La science, visée ici, est inscrite pleinement, depuis son origine socratique repérée à l’époque de La naissance de la tragédie, dans cette dynamique standardisante, ce qui conduit fréquemment Nietzsche à la qualifier de « barbare » dans ses textes de jeunesse [18]. Nous sommes ici en présence de l’un des invariants les plus remarquables d’une philosophie trop souvent dénoncée comme contradictoire. Sitôt qu’il entrera en possession du concept de nihilisme, c’est ce concept qu’il utilisera pour diagnostiquer les forces dominantes qui s’expriment dans la science. Recourons, là encore, à l’œuvre non publiée ; en 1881 s’inscrit dans les cahiers de Nietzsche l’une des expressions les plus nettes de ce nihilisme de la science, même si le concept de nihilisme n’est pas encore dans les bagages du philosophe : « Une formidable cruauté a existé depuis le début de la vie organique, éliminant tout ce qui « ressentait » autrement – La science n’est peut-être qu’un prolongement de ce processus éliminatoire, elle est totalement inconcevable si elle ne reconnaît pas l’ « homme normal » en tant que la « mesure » suprême, à maintenir par tous les moyens » [19]. L’instinct qui anime la science moderne est l’aboutissement provisoire de l’instinct de normalisation qui a guidé pendant des millénaires l’humanité archaïque, et avant même l’apparition de l’homme la vie sous toutes ses formes. Au terme du parcours, terme probable même s’il n’est pas inéluctable, le « sable de l’humanité » [20] : c’est en effet par la métaphore du sable que le philosophe illustrera le plus souvent cette fin angoissante qu’il ne nous présente que pour nous exhorter à y échapper.
 
Un examen, qui ne pourra ici qu’être des plus sommaires dans le cadre de ce bref exposé, suffira à vérifier la pertinence du soupçon nietzschéen. Ainsi que nous l’avons déjà entrevu, la « perfection » que prétendent atteindre les biotechnologies renvoie nécessairement à un modèle. Dès à présent, les avortements thérapeutiques, les analyses prénatales, le diagnostic préimplantatoire, bref l’arsenal biologique qui ira grandissant, sont mis en œuvre au service d’un eugénisme négatif qui répugne à dire son nom. Quant à l’eugénisme positif encore timide, ses récentes manifestations nous indiquent clairement à partir de quels paramètres sera élaboré le modèle de la perfection recherchée. « Enfant parfait », « homme parfait », « santé parfaite » marquent bien, comme le signale entre autres Pierre-André Taguieff, « le retour de l’imaginaire eugéniste » [21]. Ces perfections, conçues comme éradication du mal, du négatif, de la souffrance, ne relèvent-elles pas de l’hôte nihiliste si inquiétant dont Nietzsche a le premier dessiné le visage ? Ainsi le diagnostic préimplantatoire multiplie de façon exponentielle, comme le fait remarquer Jacques Testard, l’exclusion d’enfants potentiels que permet le diagnostic prénatal. Un risque évident de normalisation se profile, car rien ne permet de dire où s’arrêtera la liste des éléments testés par ces diagnostics. Prétendre, comme le font certains, que nous ne serions nullement en présence d’un eugénisme, puisque les décisions relèvent de la responsabilité individuelle, c’est bien sûr « ignorer délibérément le poids énorme des conformismes, la pression sociale qui pousse chacun à se plier aux modèles en vigueur à un moment donné », ainsi que le remarque fort justement Jean-Claude Guillebaud [22]. Jugement renforcé par les pressions économiques allant dans la même direction. Les forces uniformisantes sont donc hypocritement ignorées de ces discours pseudo-libéraux renvoyant à la seule responsabilité individuelle. Or Nietzsche est par excellence le philosophe qui a consacré ses efforts à repérer et à mesurer ces forces. Lorsqu’elle se demande si « les possibilités actuelles […] ne risquent pas de mener progressivement vers la normalisation de l’individu, voire de l’espèce humaine » [23], Catherine Bachelard-Jobard nous semble bien timide. Ce risque de normalisation n’a rien d’un possible, il relève de la logique même de la science. Nietzsche nous a aidés à comprendre que ce mouvement a toujours été présent dans l’histoire, et nous pouvons nous appuyer sur ses analyses pour percevoir que la techno-science n’est rien d’autre qu’un nouvel instrument au service de l’uniformisation. Ce qui pourrait faire de cet instrument un outil plus puissant que ses prédécesseurs, ce n’est peut-être rien d’autre que la domination peu à peu sans partage des forces réactives.
 
Que le diagnostic à la fois informé et prudent de Catherine Bachelard-Jobard ne lui interdise pas d’évoquer une « marche vers la normalisation », un « courant d’hypernormativité ambiante », confirme notre soupçon à propos de la direction que prennent et que prendront plus encore demain les applications à l’homme des biotechnologies. Peut-on se contenter de la conclusion interrogative de l’ouvrage L’eugénisme, la science et le droit : « Il reste à savoir si les parents peuvent encore choisir de mettre au monde un enfant différent et si l’on ne se dirige pas vers un monde d’enfants parfaits. Les barrières posées par le législateur sont-elles suffisantes ? A cette question, seul l’avenir répondra »  [24] ? Venons-en en effet au travail du législateur. Ne peut-on pas reprocher une certaine naïveté à François Dagognet qui ne prend guère le temps, aussi fouillée et pertinente que soit son approche de ces questions, d’interroger sérieusement la capacité de la puissance politique à conduire la maîtrise du vivant ? Affirmer ex abrupto que « seul l’Etat et son administration peuvent mettre en application ce qui aura été jugé « le meilleur » [25], n’est-ce pas asseoir sur un postulat des plus contestables la rationalité de cette maîtrise ? Sans aller nécessairement jusqu’à considérer à la manière de Nietzsche la classe politique des démocraties modernes comme « un ensemble d’individus avisés de type grégaire » [26], lui prêter sans précautions la capacité de conduire ce que Dagognet nomme avec bonheur la « biurgie » des temps à venir nous semble fort contestable.
 
3) L’égypticisme des biotechnologies
 
Une dernière dominante de la philosophie nietzschéenne est gommée par ceux qui tentent de le récupérer au service des manipulations de l’humain : il s’agit de la conception de la temporalité, centrale dans sa pensée. Défini comme « péché originel des philosophes » [27], le manque de sens historique caractérise en fait la totalité de l’idéologie moderne. Nietzsche est par excellence le penseur qui ne cesse d’insister sur le lien qui nous unit inconsciemment au passé immémorial de nos ancêtres, et au-delà des humains qui nous ont précédés, de la totalité de l’aventure de la vie terrestre. Il s’exprime souvent à la première personne pour indiquer à quel point la saisie de ce lien définit une part essentielle de sa pensée, ainsi qu’il le fait dans le paragraphe 54 du Gai Savoir, texte majeur en lequel nous trouvons ces mots : « J’ai découvert pour ma part que la vieille humaine animalité, voire la totalité des temps originels et du passé de tout être sensible continuaient en moi à poétiser, à aimer, à haïr, à construire des déductions … ». Lorsque A. Giudicelli, après avoir rappelé que la vie terrestre a des milliards d’années, que la vie de l’espèce humaine au moins trois millions d’années, se demande « ce qui qualifierait notre génération ou la suivante à transformer notre espèce », il ouvre un chemin interrogatif déjà remarquablement balisé par la méditation nietzschéenne.
 
Toujours en ce qui concerne la temporalité, en notant que « l’idée eugénique s’intègre dans le projet platonicien de la Cité idéale » [28], Catherine Bachelard-Jobard pointe à juste titre la haine du devenir qui anime tout eugénisme. Ce que le Crépuscule des Idoles nomme avec subtilité l’ « égypticisme » du platonisme et à sa suite de toute la philosophie occidentale,  est-il absent des fantasmes de nos biologistes ? Tout nous amène à le nier. Dans « le rêve d’éradiquer définitivement de l’humanité toute malformation congénitale » se manifeste à n’en pas douter un égypticisme scientifique qui, prétendant éliminer le hasard, tend à éliminer par là même la temporalité différenciante de la procréation. Quand elle remarque à ce propos qu’ « à chaque génération, des accidents modifient gènes et chromosomes» et que ces accidents rendent dérisoire ce rêve [29], Catherine Bachelard-Jobard soulève deux séries de questions. D’une part, elle soupçonne à juste titre les biotechnologies d’avoir pour fin d’immobiliser le devenir, d’autre part elle pronostique l’échec inévitable de ce projet. Sur ce second point, elle semble oublier que la combinaison probable de la thérapie germinale et du diagnostic préimplantatoire, dont elle repère séparément les risques, pourrait un jour prochain permettre sinon d’atteindre ce but, du moins de s’en rapprocher. Or le risque d’une immobilisation de l’humanité est très présent dans les écrits nietzschéens : ce qui différencie le plus nettement l’homme de l’animal est pour le philosophe le fait que l’homme est l’animal non encore fixé, qu’il est essentiellement promesse. Le mouvement de la civilisation, couronné par la puissance de la science, pourrait ravaler l’homme au rang de l’animal. « Je doute que cet homme durable », écrit-il par exemple, « que produirait finalement l’utilitarisme de la sélection de l’espèce, parvienne à un niveau beaucoup plus élevé que le Chinois […] le but est de rendre l’homme aussi régulier que cela s’est produit pour la plupart des espèces animales » [30]. Sous les promesses séduisantes des biologistes, n’est-ce pas le « dernier homme » et son clin d’œil qui se dessine en filigrane ?
 
III) Les conditions d’une rencontre
 
1) Un principe nietzschéen de précaution
 
Un abîme sépare à l’heure actuelle les annonces un peu terrifiantes de certains scientifiques, tel Bernard Debré, et la prudence de la plupart des philosophes et des juristes. La thérapie germinale rencontre de très fortes résistances, et un vaste consensus s’accorde avec l’interdit énoncé par exemple par Noëlle Lenoir qui affirme catégoriquement qu’ « on n’a pas le droit de prendre le risque, fût-ce pour des motifs thérapeutiques, de modifier l’homme, valeur inestimable en soi, voire de transformer le genre humain » [31]. Cet interdit, dont Jean-Claude Guillebaud a esquissé la légitimation dans son livre Le principe d’humanité [32], est-il acceptable d’un point de vue nietzschéen ? La réponse est oui, même si la connivence qui en résulte entre un humanisme à fondement religieux et l’iconoclaste philosophe du soupçon pourrait au départ nous inquiéter. Ce n’est pas, bien sûr, parce que le type atteint aléatoirement par l’homme serait intouchable et revêtu d’une quelconque sacralité, qu’on s’appropriera l’interdit énoncé. Rien d’immuable, et pas la moindre origine transcendante, dans l’humain tel que le devenir de la vie terrestre en a à ce jour dessiné les contours. Nous allons y revenir. Mais prendre le risque de modifications irréversibles en un moment historique où « toutes les formes d’originalité ont pris mauvaise conscience », modifier le patrimoine génétique de l’espèce à l’heure où « l’horizon des meilleurs est devenu encore plus sombre » [33], c’est prendre le risque insensé d’assurer au nihilisme un triomphe définitif. Si Nietzsche ne s’est pas trompé en considérant que nous sommes entrés dans le nihilisme pour les trois ou quatre siècles à venir, on peut sans scrupule se réclamer de sa pensée pour redonner aux hommes de notre temps le sens du temps biologique et cosmique, et tenter de les arracher à une précipitation que le philosophe n’a cessé de dénoncer d’un bout à l’autre de son œuvre. « Tenir en réserve », comme le préconise François Dagognet, « les essences qu’on a momentanément écartées » [34], est une précaution élémentaire, une précaution qu’il va falloir imposer à la biologie. Mais concernant l’homme, une telle « réserve » ne saurait suffire. Ajouter à notre Déclaration des droits de l’homme, comme le suggère le professeur Jean Dausset, un article qui proclamerait les droits de l’homme face aux manipulations génétiques, pourrait être, sans bien sûr s’illusionner sur la force du Droit, une manifestation nette de ce principe nietzschéen de précaution.
 
2) Une biurgie au service de la différence
 
« Parce que de cimes elle a besoin, elle a besoin de degrés et de contradiction entre les degrés et ceux qui les gravissent » [35] : ce propos de Zarathoustra, parmi bien d’autres, exprime la conception différentialiste du vivant qui caractérise la pensée de Nietzsche. Une standardisation accomplie au nom de la perfection immobiliserait un jeu dont nous ne constituons qu’une étape sans doute éphémère. Il est certainement plus conforme à la vision nietzschéenne de revendiquer un droit à la différence qui pourrait prendre par exemple la forme du « droit à la maladie » , que d’accompagner le génie génétique dans son rêve d’une « santé parfaite », utopie dénoncée il y a quelques années par L. Sfez [36]. Si la « biurgie », troisième âge de la biologie selon François Dagognet, prolonge l’enrichissement des formes que le philosophe croit inscrit dans la logique du vivant, s’il ne s’agit que d’une maîtrise palliant les échecs de la vie dans « sa recherche de la maximalité et de l’ampleur », si effectivement la techno-science se contente de prolonger la « polyphénoménalité sans frein » de la nature et de « favoriser son déploiement » [37], on ne voit pas au nom de quel principe une philosophie se réclamant de Nietzsche pourrait s’opposer à cette « biurgie ». Rien n’interdit même de laisser à nos spécialistes en biurgie l’initiative de produire un jour à partir de la souche humaine de nouvelles espèces. Quand Tristram H. Engelhardt, cité par Gilbert Hottois, écrit ces lignes : « A long terme […] il n’y a pas de raison de penser qu’une seule espèce sortira de la nôtre. Il pourrait y avoir autant d’espèces qu’il y aura d’opportunités invitant à remodeler substantiellement la nature humaine … » [38], nous ne saurions trouver dans le corpus nietzschéen un élément d’opposition radicale à un tel projet. A condition toutefois d’accentuer les premiers mots de la phrase : « à long terme », en effet, et en fonction d’un projet qu’aujourd’hui la techno-science est totalement incapable de construire. Faute de ce but, elle ne pourrait qu’investir ses instruments dans un programme uniformisant gelant peut-être définitivement l’aventure de la vie terrestre.
 
3) Une place pour le chaos
 
Que l’évolution biologique ait laissé émerger des formes nouvelles aboutissant, de mutations en mutations, à ce terme provisoire qu’est l’homme, il serait aussi vain qu’aberrant de le nier. Mais que ces émergences expriment la logique du vivant, comme le répète François Dagognet, c’est beaucoup plus contestable. Pour Nietzsche, lointain ancêtre de Jacques Monod, la logique de la vie est une logique répétitive et uniformisante, dont on peut simplement constater qu’elle a laissé, à travers ses failles, émerger de nouvelles formes. De même la sélection darwinienne est moins lutte pour la prééminence que pression uniformisante exercée sur tous les membres d’une espèce. Nietzsche est sur ce plan profondément antidarwinien : la lutte, nous dit-il, « se termine au détriment des forts, des privilégiés, des heureuses exceptions ! Ce n’est pas en perfection que croissent les espèces. Les faibles l’emportent de plus en plus sur les forts » [39]. Le darwinisme est pour le philosophe un avatar de l’hégélianisme, un providentialisme habillé aux couleurs du discours objectif.
 
Même si François Dagognet tient des propos différentialistes qui ont pu apparaître nietzschéens à certains de ses lecteurs, son différentialisme ne rejoint que dans ses conclusions le nietzschéisme, à partir de prémisses qui sont aux antipodes de la conception nietzschéenne de la vie. Les textes de Nietzsche qui exigent le plus grand effort de lecture sont ceux dans lesquels il met en évidence le caractère aléatoire de l’apparition de la supériorité. Quand L’Antéchrist, résumant d’innombrables formules des cahiers non publiés, affirme que la question fondamentale est celle de savoir « quel type d’homme il faut élever, il faut vouloir … », pour conclure que « ce type d’homme d’une valeur supérieure s’est déjà bien souvent présenté, mais à titre de hasard heureux, à titre d’exception, jamais parce que voulu » [40], une lecture au premier degré repère dans ce genre de formules un appel évident à la maîtrise et à la prise en mains par l’humanité de son devenir biologique. Faut-il approuver une telle lecture ? Nous ne le pensons pas. D’une part ce serait négliger totalement le soupçon nietzschéen à l’égard de la volonté, dont le Crépuscule des idoles rappelle qu’elle n’est « qu’un mot » [41]. D’autre part et surtout, ce serait prêter naïvement à l’homme un pouvoir créateur dont toute l’histoire des civilisations démontre la faiblesse. Si l’exception a surgi au sein d’une histoire dominée par les forces uniformisantes, c’est malgré la volonté des hommes. Par-delà Bien et Mal l’affirme avec une particulière netteté : « Les hommes ordinaires […] ont été et sont toujours avantagés ; l’élite, les plus raffinés, les plus singuliers, les plus difficiles à comprendre demeurent souvent seuls, succombent aux accidents du fait de leur isolement et se perpétuent rarement. Il faut une prodigieuse force adverse pour contrecarrer ce naturel, trop naturel progressus in simile qui cantonne l’existence humaine dans le semblable, l’ordinaire, le médiocre, le grégaire, - le commun » [42]. Les appels à vouloir un type supérieur d’humanité doivent donc être entendus très modestement comme une exhortation à ne pas capituler sans condition devant la logique de la vie et de la civilisation, comme un encouragement à veiller à sauvegarder, dans la trame de la nécessité, les déchirures chaotiques d’où naissent périodiquement les étoiles dansantes.
 
 
Conclusion
 
Partons, pour conclure, de cette formule de Maurice Bellet, affirmant que « l’humain de l’humain n’est pas évident, c’est une formidable et improbable émergence au sein de l’univers » [43], formule que Nietzsche aurait faite sienne. Et remplaçons le mot « humain » par le mot « surhumain ». Face à une conception figée de l’homme, et aux pièges d’une philosophie occidentale enfermée dans l’égypticisme platonicien, Nietzsche prêche pour le Surhumain. Mais le Surhumain ne saurait résulter d’un programme de fabrication confiée à une techno-science essentiellement animée par les forces uniformisantes. Le Surhumain résultera, s’il doit un jour advenir comme ont pu émerger tous les vivants qui l’ont précédé, d’un jeu que nul ne peut prétendre maîtriser, d’un jeu issu du chaos, d’une petite part non encore stabilisée tapie au cœur de nos cellules, « dernier petit fragment  du monde où quelque chose de nouveau se combine » [44].
 
Que les biotechnologies tiennent une place, encore difficile à évaluer, dans l’ensemble des conditions d’émergence de la surhumanité, cela ne semble guère douteux. Mais confier à la techno-science du XXIème  siècle le soin de programmer la construction de l’homme supérieur, c’est franchir un pas dont tout nous porte à croire qu’il contredirait les options les plus essentielles de la pensée nietzschéenne. Il nous faut accepter, même si cela s’oppose à nos naïves illusions de maîtrise, que nous vivons un âge expérimental et que les échafaudages que nous construisons sont comme en attente d’un édifice que nul ne peut voir aujourd’hui. Nietzsche a préféré à cette image architecturale une métaphore botanique, celle que  Le voyageur et son ombre nous offre en 1879  : « On n’a pas le droit de juger trop sévèrement les ouvriers du présent s’ils décrètent à grand bruit que le mur et l’espalier sont à eux seuls la fin et le but dernier ; c’est qu’en effet personne ne voit encore le jardinier et les arbres fruitiers pour lesquels l’espalier est là » [45]. Les prochaines générations auront-elles la force que suppose une telle modestie ?
 
  
 
NOTES

 

 

[1]  Bernard DEBRE, La grande transgression, Paris, Michel Lafon, 2000.
[2]  Peter SLOTERDIJK, Règles pour le parc humain, tr. fr. Olivier Mannoni, Paris, Mille et une
        nuits, 2000.
[3]  Terme que j’emprunte à François DAGOGNET auquel je me réfère un peu plus loin. Voir en
        particulier  La maîtrise du vivant, Paris, Hachette, 1988.
[4]   Fatum et histoire, in Ecrits autobiographiques 1858-1869 , tr. fr. Marc Marcuzzi, Paris, P.U.F.,
        1994, p. 191.
[5]  Gilbert HOTTOIS, « Ethique et technoscience : entre humanisme et évolutionnisme »,
        in Science et éthique, Bruxelles, Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 1987.
[6]  Par-delà Bien et Mal, § 225, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome VII, Paris, Gallimard, 1971, p. 144.
[7]   Cf. Le voyageur et son ombre, § 188, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome III, volume 2, Paris, Gallimard,
       1968,  p. 236-237.
[8]   Fragment posthume, Printemps-automne 1881, f.p. 11 [276], O.C. de Nietzsche, tome V, Paris,
       Gallimard, 1982, p. 414.
[9]    F.P. 11 [177], ibidem, p. 376.
[10] Opinions et sentences mêlées, § 179, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome III, volume 2, op. cit., p. 84.
[11] Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra, première partie, « De la voie du créateur », O.C. de Nietzsche,
        tome VI, Paris, Gallimard, 1971, p. 76.
[12] Catherine BACHELARD-JOBARD, L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, Paris, P.U.F., 2001,
         p. XIII.
[13] Aurore, § 108, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome IV, Paris, Gallimard, 1970, p. 87.
[14] Fragment posthume, automne 1880, f.p. 6 [59], O.C. de Nietzsche, ibidem, p. 488.
[15] Bernard DEBRE, La grande transgression, op. cit., p. 122.
[16] Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra, seconde partie, « De la rédemption », op. cit., p. 159.
[17] Fragment posthume, automne 1878, f.p. 32 [24], O.C. de Nietzsche, tome III, volume 2,
        op. cit., p. 378-379.
[18] Par exemple dans les deux premières Considérations inactuelles ou dans Le livre du
        philosophe.
 
[19] Fragment posthume, Printemps-automne 1881, f. p. 11 [252], O.C. de Nietzche, tome V,
        op. cit., p. 404.
[20] Entre autres occurrences, fragment posthume printemps 1880, f. p. 3 [98], O.C. de Nietzsche,
        tome IV, op. cit., p. 356.
[21] L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, préface, op. cit., p. IX.
[22] Jean-Claude Guillebaud,  Le principe d’humanité, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p. 257.
[23] L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, op. cit., p. 4.
[24] Ibidem, p. 304.
[25] François DAGOGNET, La maîtrise du vivant, op cit., p. 10.
[26] Par-delà Bien et Mal, § 199, op. cit., p. 111.
[27] Humain trop humain, § 2, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome III, volume 1, Paris, Gallimard, 1968, p. 24.
[28] L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, op. cit., p. 15.
[29] Ibidem, p. 120.
[30] Fragment posthume, Printemps-automne 1881, f. p. 11 [44], O.C. de Nietzsche, tome V,
        op. cit., p. 329.
[31] Cité par Catherine BACHELARD-JOBARD, L’eugénisme, la science et le droit, op. cit., p. 119.
[32] Jean-Claude GUIILLEBAUD, Le principe d’humanité, op. cit.
[33Aurore, § 9, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome IV, op. cit., p. 25.
[34] François DAGOGNET, La maîtrise du vivant, op cit., p. 193.
[35] Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra, seconde partie, « Des tarentules », op. cit., p. 118.
[36] Lucien SFEZ, La santé parfaite, critique d’une nouvelle utopie, Paris, Seuil, 1995.
[37] François DAGOGNET, La maîtrise du vivant, op cit., p. 69, p. 145, etc.
[38] Cité par Gilbert HOTTOIS, Essais de philosophie bioéthique et biopolitique, Paris, Vrin,
        1999.
[39Crépuscule des Idoles, « Divagations d’un inactuel », § 14, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome VIII,
        volume 1,
        Paris, Gallimard, 1974, p. 116.
[40] Antéchrist, § 3, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome VIII, volume 1, ibidem, p. 162.
[41] Crépuscule des Idoles, « La « raison » dans la philosophie », § 5, O.C. de Nietzsche,
        tome VIII, volume 1, ibidem, p. 78.
[42] Par-delà Bien et Mal, § 268, op. cit., p. 194.
[43] Maurice Bellet, revue « Etudes », décembre 2000.
[44] Fragment posthume, Printemps-automne 1881, f. p. 11 [121], O.C. de Nietzsche, tome V,
        op. cit., p. 354.
[45] Le voyageur et son ombre, § 275, O.C. de Nietzsche, tome III, volume 2, op. cit., p. 269.

 

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vendredi, 15 juillet 2011

History and Biology

History & Biology

By Revilo Oliver

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

American Opinion, December 1963 (part 4 of 4 of History and the Historians)

teinture-cheveux-grossesse.jpgHistory is the record of what men do. Scientific discoveries and technological applications of them are often events of historical importance, but do not affect our understanding of the historical process since they shed no light on the behavior of men in civilized societies.

For example, the recent use of atomic fission to produce a more powerful explosive has no significance for a philosophy of history. Like the many changes in the technology of war that have occurred throughout history, this one will call for changes in tactics and strategy, alters to some extent the balance of power in the world, and may well occasion the fall and extinction of a world power so fat-headed that it does not understand the importance of technological superiority in warfare. But all this is merely history repeating itself. It is true that the improved weapons set bands of addle-pated neurotics throughout the country shrieking as wildly as a tribe of banshees out on a week-end spree; but that is merely another instance of the rather puzzling phenomenon of mass hysteria. It is also true that Communist agents have been scurrying about the country to brandish the phrase “nuclear holocaust” as a kind of up-to-date Jack-o’-Lantern to scare children. But while it is the historian’s task to understand the International Conspiracy in the light of such partial precedents as are available, the new weapon will not help him in that. He will merely marvel that a large part of our population is not only ignorant of history in general, but evidently has not read even the Old Testament, from which it would have learned that atomic bombs, as instruments of extermination, are much less efficient that a tribe of Israelites armed with the simplest weapons (see Joshua vi. 20 et passim).

As an exception to the general rule, however, our century has brought one new area of knowledge in the natural sciences that must profoundly affect our understanding of history both past and present–that is as relevant to the rise and fall of the Mitanni and the Hittites as it is to our future. Distressingly enough, the new science of genetics raises for the historian many more questions than it answers, but it discloses the existence of a force that must be taken into account in any philosophy of history.

Multiplex Man

Civilized human beings have long been puzzled by the mysterious diversity of human beings. It is possible, indeed, that mystery was part of the process by which some people were able to rise from barbarism to civilization. The perception requires mental powers that are by no means universal. The aborigines of Australia, for example, who are probably the lowest from of human life still extant, have a consciousness so dim and rudimentary that they multiplied on that continent for fifty thousand years without ever suspecting that sexual intercourse had anything to do with reproduction. Most savages, to be sure, are somewhat above that level, but no tribe appears to have been aware of its own diversity, let alone capable of thinking about it.

Human beings capable of reflective thought, however, must have begun early to marvel, as we still do, at the great differences obvious among the offspring of one man by one woman. Of two brothers, one may be tall and the other short; one stolid and the other alert; one seemingly born with a talent for mathematics and the other with a love of music.

Many were the theories that men excogitated to explain so strange a phenomenon. One of the principal grounds for the once widespread and persistent belief in astrology was the possibility of explaining the differences between two brothers by noting that, although engendered by the same parents, they were conceived and born under different configurations of the planets. In the Seventeenth Century, indeed, Campanella, whose plan for a Welfare State is the source of many of our modern “Liberal” crotchets and crazes, devised a whole system of eugenics to be enforced by bureaucrats who would see to it that human beings were engendered only at moments fixed by expert astrologers.

Again, the doctrine of metempsychosis, once almost universally held over a wide belt of the earth from India to Scandinavia, seemed to be confirmed by the same observations; for the differences between brothers were understandable, if their bodies were animated by souls that had had far different experiences in earlier incarnations.

There were also some theoretical explanations, such as the one that you may remember having read in the stately verse of Lucretius, that were sound bases for scientific inquiry, but they were not followed up. Until the last third of the Nineteenth Century, men learned nothing of the basic laws of heredity. Darwin’s knowledge of the subject was no better than Aristotle’s, and Galton’s enthusiasm for eugenics was no more firmly founded than was Plato’s. It remained for a humble and too modest priest, Father Johann Gregor Mendel, to make one of the most important scientific discoveries ever made by man.

Father Mendel’s Versuche über Pflanzen hybriden was published in 1886, but the famous professors in the great universities could not take a mere priest seriously–certainly not a priest so impudent as to contradict Darwin–and so they went on for decades pawing over problems that father Mendel had made obsolete as the epicycles of Ptolemaic astronomy. He was simply ignored and forgotten until 1900, when three distinguished biologists discovered independently and almost simultaneously some of the laws that he had ascertained and formulated.

It required some time for systematic study of genetics to get under way, and research has been greatly impeded by two catastrophic World Wars and by the obscurantism of Communists and “Liberal intellectuals.”

In Russia and other territories controlled by the Conspiracy, Marx’s idiotic mumbo-jumbo is official doctrine and the study of genetics is therefore prohibited. There are, however, some indications that research may be going on secretly, and it is even possible that, so far as human genetics are concerned, the knowledge thus obtained may exceed our own; for the Soviet, though usually inept in scientific work, has facilities for experiments that civilized men cannot perform. In the mid-1930′s, for example, there were reports that experiment stations in Asiatic Russia had pens of human women whom the research workers were trying to breed with male apes in the hope of producing a species better adapted to life under Socialism than human beings. It was reported a few years ago that the Soviet is now trying to create subhuman mutations by exposing their human breeding stock to various forms of irradiation. One cannot exclude the possibility that the monsters who conduct such experiments may incidentally find some significant data.

In the United States, the situation differs somewhat from that in Russia. Geneticists are permitted to continue their studies in peace so long as they communicate only with one another and do not disclose to the public facts of which the American boobs must be kept ignorant. Since it requires rare courage to provoke a nest of “Liberal intellectuals” or rattlesnakes, the taboo thus imposed is generally observed.

Grim Genetics

Despite the restraints placed on scientific investigation, and despite the awesome complexity of genetic factors in so complicated a creature as man, it is now virtually certain that all of the physiological structure of human beings, including such details as color of eyes, acuity of vision, stature, susceptibility to specific diseases, and formation of the brain are genetically determined beyond possibility of modification or alteration except by physical injury or chemical damage. Some of the processes involved have been well ascertained; others remain unknown. No one knows, for example, why the introduction of minute quantities of fluorine into drinking water will prevent development of the brain in some children and so roughly double the number of mongolian idiots born in a given area.

It is far more difficult to investigate intellectual capacities, since these must involve a large number of distinct elements, no one of which can be physically observed; but all of the evidence thus far available indicates that intelligence is as completely and unalterable determined by genetic inheritance as physical traits.

Moral qualities are even more elusive than intellectual capacity. There is evidence which makes it seem extremely probable that criminal instincts, at least, are inherited, but beyond this we can only speculate by drawing an analogy between moral and intellectual potentialities.

Many persons find the conclusions thus suggested unpleasant, just as all of us, I am sure, would be much happier if the earth were the immobile center of the universe and the heavens revolved about it. But although vast areas in the new science of genetics remain unexplored, and although the complexity of many problems is such that we cannot hope to know in our lifetime many of the things that we most urgently need to know, the principles of heredity have been determined with a fairly high degree of scientific probability. They are, furthermore, in accord with what common sense has always told us and also with the rational perception of our place in the universe that underlies religion.

We can blind children, but we cannot give them sight. We can stunt their minds in “progressive” schools, but we cannot give them an intelligence they did not inherit at birth. It is likely that we can make criminals of them by putting them (like the somewhat improbable Oliver Twist) in Fagin’s gang or its equivalent, but we cannot induce a moral sense in one who was born without it. We have always known that it is easy for man to destroy what he can never create.

One Certainty

The Mendelian laws and hence the finding that human beings, physically and intellectually, at least, are absolutely limited to the potentialities they have inherited — which may be impaired by external action but cannot be increased — are the accepted basis of all serious biological study today. From the standpoint of scientific opinion, to deny heredity is about equivalent to insisting that the earth is flat or that tadpoles spring from the hair of horses.

The point is worth noting, for even if you choose to reject the findings of genetics, that science will enable you to demonstrate one very important truth.

Our “liberal intellectuals,” who have done all in their power to deride, defile, and destroy all religion, are now sidling about us with hypocritical whimpers that the facts of genetics ain’t “Christian.” This argument does work with those whose religion is based on the strange faith that God wouldn’t have dared to create a universe without consulting their wishes. But if you inquire of the “intellectual,” as though you did not know, concerning scientific evidence in these matters, the chances are that he will assure you, with a very straight face, that he is, as always, the Voice of Science. Thus you will know that he still is what he has always been: a sneak and a liar.

The Warp of Culture

Given the facts that all men are born unequal; that the inequality, apparent even among children of the same parents, increases with differences in genetic strains; that civilization, by the very fact of social organization and the variety of human activity thus made possible, accentuates such differences; and that the continuity of a culture depends on a more or less instinctive acceptance of the common values of that culture — given those facts, it becomes clear that historians who try to account for the rise and fall of civilizations by describing political, economic, philosophic, and religious changes without reference to genetic changes in the population are simply excluding what must have been a very important factor, however little we may be able to measure it in the past or the present.

Whatever should be true of statutory and often ephemeral enactments in human jurisprudence, it is undoubtedly true of all the laws of nature that ignorance of the law excuses no-one from the consequences of violating it. And it may be unjust, as it is certainly exasperating, that we must often act with only a partial and inaccurate knowledge of such laws. But that is a condition of life. Societies are like individuals in that they must make decisions as best they can on the basis of such information as is available to them. You may have stock in a corporation whose future you may find it very difficult to estimate, but you must decide either (a) to sell, or (b) to buy more, or (c) to hold what you have. What you cannot do is nothing.

The scope of genetic forces in the continuity of a civilization, and, more particularly, of Western civilization, and, especially, of that civilization in the United States was illustrated by one of the most brilliant of American writers, Dr. Lothrop Stoddard, in The Revolt Against Civilization (Scribner’s, New York, 1922). The book was out of print for many years, for our “liberal intellectuals” promptly decided that the subject was one that American boobs should not be permitted to think about, and accordingly shovelled their malodorous muck on both book and author, in the hope of burying both forever. Copies of it disappeared from many libraries, and the book became hard to find on the secondhand market (I obtained my copy from a dealer in Italy).

I commend The Revolt Against Civilization, not as a revelation of ultimate truth, but as a cogent and illuminating discussion of some very grim problems that we must face, if we intend to have a future. The book, you must remember, was written when problems in genetics seemed much simpler than they do now in the light of later research, and when Americans felt a confidence and an optimism that we of a later generation can scarcely reconstruct in imagination. Some parts of the book will seem quaint and old-fashioned. Dr. Stoddard assumes, for example, that the graduates of Harvard are a group intellectually and morally above the average: That probably was true when he was an undergraduate and when he took his doctorate; he did not foresee what loathesome and reptilian creatures would slither out of Harvard to infest the Dismal Swamp in Washington. And when he urged complete toleration of Communist talk (as distinct from violence), he was thinking of soap-box oratory in Bug-House Square and the shrill chatter of parlor-pinks over their teacups; he did not foresee penetration and capture of schools, churches, newspapers, and political organizations by criminals who disseminate Communist propaganda perfunctorily disguised as “progressive education,” “social gospel,” and “economic democracy.”

But the book remains timely. What were sins of omission in 1922, when we were, with feckless euphoria, repeating the blunders that destroyed past civilization, are now sins of commission, committed with deliberate and malicious calculation by the enemies whom we have given power over us. And we should especially perpend Dr. Stoddard’s distinction between the ignorant or overly-emotional persons who “blindly take Bolshevism’s false promises at their face value,” and the real Bolshevik, who “are mostly born and not made.” That dictum is as unimpeachable as the poeta nascitur, non fit, that it echoes.

The Optimistic Pessimist

Since Stoddard wrote, the horizons have darkened around us. A recent and stimulating book is Dr. Elmer Pendell’s The Next Civilization. The title may remind you of an article that Arthur Koestler published in the New York Times on November 7, 1943 — an article whose bleak pessimism startled all but the very few readers who were in a position to surmise, form the hints which Koestler was able to smuggle into the pages of the Times, that he, an ex-Communist, was able to estimate the extent to which the Communist Conspiracy had already taken control of the government of the United States. Koestler, stating flatly that we would soon be engulfed in a Dark Age of barbarism and indescribable horror, called for the establishment of monasteries that, like the monasteries of the early Middle Ages, would preserve some part of human culture as seed for a new Renaissance in some distant future. Dr. Pendell, although he does not entirely deny us hope for ourselves, is primarily concerned with preserving the better part of our genetic heritage as seed for a future civilization that may have the intelligence to avoid the follies by which we are decreeing our own doom.

Dr. Pendell very quickly reviews the historical theories of Brook Adams, Spengler, Toynbee, and others to show that they all disregard the fact that decline in a civilization is always accompanied by a change in the composition, and deterioration in the quality, of the population.

We know that such changes took place in every civilization of which we have record. The majority of Roman citizens in 100 A.D. were not related at all to the Roman citizens in 100 B.C. We know that the great Roman families died out from sheer failure to have enough children to reproduce themselves, and we have reason to believe that all classes of responsible Romans, regardless of social or economic position, followed the fashion of race suicide.

Since the Romans had the preposterous notion that any person of any race imported from any part of the world could be transformed into a Roman by some magic in the legal phrases by which he was made a Roman citizen, the children that the Romans did not have were replaced by a mass of very diverse origins. Some of the importations undoubtedly brought with them fresh vigor and talent; some were incapable of assimilating civilization at all and could only imitate its outer forms without understanding its meaning; and some, while by no mens inferior in intelligence and energy, had a temperament which, although eminently suited to some other civilization, was incompatible with the Roman. For some estimates of the deterioration of the population of the empire that the Romans founded, see the late Tenny Frank’s History of Rome (Holt, New York) and Martin P. Nilsson’s Imperial Rome (Schocken, New York).

When Dr. Stoddard wrote, we were merely behaving as thoughtlessly as the Romans: Carpe diem and let tomorrow take care of itself. But now, as Dr. Pendell hints and could have stated more emphatically, the power of government over us is being used, with a consistency and efficiency that must be intentional, to accelerate our deterioration and hasten our disappearance as a people by every means short of mass massacre that geneticists could suggest. To mention but one small example, many states now pick the pockets of their taxpayers to subsidize and promote the breeding of bastards, who, with only negligible exceptions, are the product of the lowest dregs of our population, the morally irresponsible and mentally feeble. An attorney informs me that in his state and others the rewards for such activity are so low that a female of this species has to produce about a dozen bastards before it can afford a Cadillac, and will have to go on producing to take care of the maintenance. Intensive breeding is therefore going on, and the legislation that was designed to stimulate it may therefore be said to be highly successful.

The United States is now engaged in an insane, but terribly effective, effort to destroy the American people and Western civilization by subsidizing, both at home and abroad, the breeding of the intellectually, physically, and morally unfit; while at the same time inhibiting, by taxation and in many other ways, the reproduction of the valuable parts of the population — those with the stamina and the will to bear the burden of high civilization. We, in our fatuity, but under the control of persons who must know that they are doing, are working to create a future in which our children, if we have any, will curse us for having given them birth.

When Dr. Pendell tells us what we must do, if we are to survive or even if we limit ourselves to the more modest hope that human civilization may survive on our planet, is to reverse the process — to encourage the reproduction of the superior stock and to check the multiplication of the inferior — he is unquestionably right. He may also be right when he urges that we must do more than desist from interfering with nature for the purpose of producing biological deterioration — that we must, instead, interfere with nature to ameliorate and improve our race. But here, I fear, Dr. Pendell, although he almost despairs of our civilization and looks to the next one, is yet too optimistic. There are two practical difficulties.

Our Coup d’Etat

Dr. Pendell proposes voluntary eugenic associations and “heredity corporations,” which, no doubt, would help a little, as he argues, but which, as he is aware, would not have much more effect than a few buckets of water thrown into the crater of Mauna Loa. At this late date, to accomplish much for ourselves or even for our putative successors, we must use at least the taxing power of government, if not its powers of physical coercion, to induce or compel the superior to have children and to prevent the inferior from proliferating. So here enters on the stage that most unlovely product of human evolution, the bureaucrat, whom we shall need to apply whatever rules we may devise. And –if you can stand a moment of sheer nightmare, dear reader — imagine, just for five seconds or so, what mankind would be like, if the power to decide who was or was not to have children fell into the hands of a Senator Fulbright, a Walt Rostow, and Adam Yarmolinsky, a Jack Kennedy, or a Jack The Ripper.

For that dilemma, of course, there is an obvious solution — but, so far as I can see, only one. You, my dear reader, Dr. Pendell, and I must form a triumvirate and seize absolute power over the United States. Unfortunately, I can’t at the moment think of a way of carrying out our coup d’etat, but let’s leave such details until later. Assume that we have that power, which we, certainly, are determined to use wisely and well. What shall we do with it?

Dr. Pendell is certainly right. We must breed for brain-power: We must see to it that the most intelligent men and women mate with one another and have many children. And we can identify the intelligent by testing their “I.Q.” and by their grades in honest college courses (as distinguished from the childish or fraudulent drivel that forms so large a part of the college curriculum today).

Let us not digress from the subject by questioning the relative validity of the various tests used to determine an “intelligence quotient.” And we shall ignore the exceptions which, as every teacher knows, sometimes make the most conscientious grading misleading. Father Mendel, to whom we owe the greatest discovery ever made in biology, failed to pass the examination for a teacher’s license in that field. A.E. Houseman, one of the greatest classical scholars in the world, failed to obtain even second-class honors at Oxford, and was given a mere “pass.” But such exceptions are rare. Let us assume that we can test intelligence infallibly. Is that enough?

It is always helpful to reduce generalizations to specific examples. Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the great English poets; Albert Einstein, although fantastically over-advertised by yellow journalism, was a great mathematician. Both were brilliant men in more than one field of intellectual activity (Shelley is said to have exhibited a considerable talent for chemistry, among other things, and Einstein is said to have done well in courses on the Classics). Both, I am sure, would have placed themselves in the very highest bracket of any intelligence test, and (if so minded) could have been graduated summa cum laude from any college curriculum that you may advise. Both were, in their judgement of social and political problems, virtually morons. Merely a deficiency of practical common sense, you say? Yes, no doubt, but both acted on the basis of that deficiency and used their intellectual powers to exert a highly pernicious influence. One need not underestimate either the beauty of Shelley’s poems or the importance of the two theories of relativity to conclude that the world would be better off, had neither man existed.

But we must go farther than that. It is odd that most of the persons who urge us to foster “superior intellect” and “genius,” whether they recommend eugenics or educational subsidies or other means, simply ignore the phenomenon of the mattoid (see Lothrop Stoddard, op. cit., pp. 102-106, and the article by Max Nordau there cited).

A mattoid is a person possessed of a mentality that is, in the strict sense of the word, unbalanced. He is a Shelley or Einstein tilted just a few more degrees. He exhibits an extremely high talent, often amounting to genius, in one kind of mental activity, such as poetry or mathematics, while the other parts of his mind are depressed to the level of imbecility or insanity. Nordau, who was an acutely observant physician, noted that such unbalanced beings are usually, if not invariably, “full of organic feelings of dislike” and tend to generalize their subjective state of resentment against the civilized world into some cleverly devised pseudo-philosophic or pseudo-aesthetic system that will erode the very foundations of civilized society. Since civilized people necessarily set a high value on intellect, but are apt to venerate “genius” uncritically and without discrimination, the mattoid’s influence can be simply deadly. Nordau, indeed, saw in the activity of mattoids the principal reason why “people [as a whole] lose the power of moral indignation, and accustom themselves to despise it as something banal, unadvanced, and unintelligent.”

Nordau’s explanation may be satisfactory so far as it goes, but moral insanity is not by any means confined to minds that show an extraordinary disproportion among the faculties that can properly be called intellectual and can be measured by such things as intelligence tests, academic records, proficiency in a profession, and outstanding research. The two young degenerates, Loev and Leopold, whose crime shocked the nation some decades ago although the more revolting details could not be reported in the Press, were reputed to be not only among the most brilliant undergraduates ever enroled in the University of Chicago, but to be almost equally proficient in every branch of study. One could cite hundreds of comparable examples.

Most monsters that become notorious have to be highly intelligent to gain and retain power. Lenin and Trotsky must have had very active minds, and the latter, at least, according to persons who knew him, was able on occasion to pass as a cultivated man. Both probably had a very high “I.Q.” All reports from China indicate that Mao Tse-tung is not only extremely astute, but even learned in the Chinese culture that he is zealously extirpating. A few Communists or crypto-Communists who have been put in prominent positions may be mere stooges, but the directors of the Conspiracy and their responsible subordinates must be persons of phenomenally high intelligence.

It is clear that there is in the human species some biological strain of either atavism or degeneracy that manifests itself in a hatred of mankind and a list for evil for its own sake. It produced the Thugs in India and the Bolsheviks in Russia (cf. Louis Zoul, Thugs and Communists, Public Opinion, Long Island City). It appears in such distinguished persons as Giles de Rais, who was second only to the king of France, and in such vulgar specimens as Fritz Haarmann, a homosexual who attracted some attention in Germany in 1924, when it was discovered that for many years he had been disposing of his boy-friends, as soon as he became tired of them, by tearing their throats open with his teeth and then reducing them to sausage, which he sold in a delicatessen. And it animates the many crypto-Communist who hold positions of power or influence in the United States.

It is probable that this appalling viciousness is transmitted by the organic mechanisms of heredity, and although no geneticist would now even speculate about what genes or lack of genes produce such biped terrors, I think it quite likely that the science of genetics, if study and research are permitted to continue, may identify the factors involved eventually — say in two or three hundred years. I know that we most urgently and desperately need to know now. But it will do no good to kick geneticists: The most infinite complexity of human heredity makes it impossible to make such determinations more quickly by the normal techniques of research. (Of course, a brilliant discovery that would transcend those methods is always possible, but we can’t count on it.)

It is quite likely that at the present rate, as eugenicists predict, civilization is going to collapse from sheer lack of brains to carry it on. But it is now collapsing faster and harder from a super-abundance of brains of the wrong kind. Granting that we can test intelligence, we must remember that at or near the top of the list, by any test that we can devise, will be a flock of diabolically ingenious degenerates. And even if we could find a way to identify and eliminate the spawn of Satan, we should still have problems.

What causes genuine “liberal intellectuals”? Many are pure Pragmatists. They have no lust for evil for its own sake; they wouldn’t betray their country or their own parents for less than fifty dollars — and not for that, if they thought they could get more by bargaining. Others are superannuated children who want to go on playing with fairies and pixies, and are ready to kick and bite when disturbed at play; but they have the combination of lachrymose sentimentality and thoughtless cruelty that one so often finds in children before they become capable of the rational morality of adults. But all of our “liberal intellectuals” were graduated from a college of some sort, and many of them, I am sure, have a fairly high “intelligence quotient” by modern tests. I do not claim or suggest that they are the result of hereditary defects; I merely point out that we do not know and have no means of finding out. We can’t be sure of anything except that our society now has as many of those dubious luxuries as it can endure. And yet we are going to encourage them to raise the intellectual level.

Come to think of it, my friends, I guess we’d better postpone our coup d’etat for a couple of centuries.

The Shape of Things to Come

For a neat antithesis to Dr. Pendell’s book and, at the same time, a very significant application of genetics, I suggest Roderick Seidenberg’s Anatomy of the Future (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill; 175 pages). Mr. Seidenberg — I call him that because I haven’t been able to find out whether or not it should be “Dr.” — told us what our future was going to be in an earlier book, Posthistoric Man (same publisher; 256 pages), which, according to the “liberal” reviewers, made him a gigantic “philosopher of history.” In the present volume, however, he has condescended to tell us again and in fewer pages — which may make this one the better bargain.

Mr. Seidenberg, according to Mr. Seidenberg, has surveyed with his eagle eye the whole course of human history and, what is more, the whole course of biological evolution since life first appeared on this planet. That is how he knows about the “ineluctable determinism” that is going to put us in our places.

The Prophet takes his departure from the now familiar phenomenon called the “population explosion” (see American Opinion, April 1960, pp. 33 f.). He says that an increase in the number of human beings automatically increases the “complexity” of society.

Of course, we have been hearing about this “complexity” for years. I am sure that you, poor harried reader, have reflected, every time that you leap into your automobile, how much simpler life would be, if you had to worry about the health of your horses, the condition of your stable, the quality of your oats and hay, the disposition and sobriety of your coachman, the efficiency of your ostlers, and the reliability of the scavengers whom you have hired to keep clean your mews. And I know that whenever you, in Chicago, pick up the telephone to call your aunt in Miami, you remark, with may a bitter oath, how much less complex everything would be, if all that you had to do was find and hire a reliable messenger who would ride express to her house and deliver your hand-written note in a month or so — if he was not waylaid on the road, and if his horse did not break a leg or cast a shoe, and if he did not decide to pause at some bowsing-ken en route for an invigorating touch of delirium tremens. Sure, life’s gettin’ awfully complicated these days; ain’t it a fact?

Well, as we all know, life’s getting complexer every minute ’cause there are more Chinese and Congolese and Sudanese than there were a minute ago; and that means, according to Mr. Seidenberg, that we have just got to become more and more organized by the minute. And the proof of this is that, if you want to resist the ever increasing organization and socialization of society, you have to join some organization, such — I interpolate, for I need not tell you that Mr. Seidenberg would never mention anything so horrid — such as The John Birch Society. The need to join organizations to resist the organization of society proves the point, for, as is obvious, if you in 1776 had wished to resist the rule of George III, you would not have needed to join the patriots of your colony. And if, in 490 B.C., you had wished to resist the Persian invasion of Europe, you would have had no need to join, or cooperate with, your fellow Athenians who marched to Marathon. In those days of greater individualism, you, as an individual, could have stood up alone on your hind legs and stuck out your tongue — and that, presumably, would have scared Darius and his armies right into the middle of the Hellespont. But alas, no more! So, you see, History proves that the day of the individual has passed forever, and the day of Organization has come.

You must not smile, for Mr. Seidenberg is in earnest, and even if he is a bit weak in knowledge of past and present, his projection of the future has seemed cogent not merely to “liberals,” but even to thoughtful readers.

Forward to Irkalla!

Mr. Seidenberg bases his argument on inferences that he draws with apparent logic from three indisputably correct statements about the contemporary world and from a widely accepted biological theory.

1) We have all observed that we are being more and more subjected to a Welfare State, which, with Fabian patience, takes away each year some part of our power to make decisions for ourselves regarding our own lives. It is perfectly obvious that if this process continues for a few more decades (as our masters’ power to take our money to bribe and bamboozle the masses may make inevitable), we shall have lost the right to decide anything at all, and shall have become mere human livestock managed by a ruthless and inhuman bureaucracy at the orders of an even more inhuman master.

2) Our Big Brains agree with Mr. Seidenberg in believing, or pretending to believe, that “the kernel of marxism…consists in elaborating…the social message of Christ.” They assure us, therefore, that it is simply unthinkable that Americans could ever be so wicked as to fight to survive. Thus we have got to be scared or beaten into One World of universal socialism in which, as Walt Rostow, Jack Kennedy, and others now gloatingly and openly tell us, not only our nation but our race must be liquidated and dissolved in a vast and mongrel mass of pullulating bipeds.

3) The number of human beings — anatomically human, at least — is undoubtedly increasing at an appalling rate. The United States is already overpopulated for optimum life, although no critical reduction in our standard of living would be necessary for the better part of a century, if our masters permitted us to remain an independent nation. But our increase is nothing compared to the terrible multiplication of the populations of Asia and Africa, caused, for the most part, by our export to those regions of our medical knowledge, medicines, food, and money. Although we Westerners might stave off a crisis for a few decades by working harder and ever harder to support our betters and to speed up the rate at which they are breeding, it is clear that we (unless we do something unthinkable) must soon be drowned in the flood that we, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, started but did not know how to stop. So, even if we did not have Master Jack and his accomplices or employers to arrange for our liquidation, the sheer multiplication of the human species would produce the same result anyway.

One has but to glance at a graph of the world’s population to see that it is rapidly approaching the point at which the vast human swarm can be kept alive, even on the level of barest animal subsistence, only by the most expert management of every square inch of earth’s arable surface plus expert harvest of the very oceans themselves. In that monstrous human swarm jammed together on our planet, like a swarm of bees hanging from a limb, there can be no privacy, no individuality, no slightest deviation from the routine that must be maintained just to keep alive the maximum number that can subsist at all.

Now the theory of biological evolution, as usually stated, provides that species must adapt themselves to the conditions of survival. Men, having bred themselves into a maximum swarm, become mere units of the species, and will obviously be most efficient when they perform every action of the routine by an automatic reflex. This means that thought and even consciousness will become not only unnecessary but intolerable impediments to the efficient functioning of the human animals. Obviously, the human minds must disappear in order to permit billions of human ants to make the globe an ant-hill in which they can all live in perfect socialism.

That is what “ineluctable determinism” makes ineluctable, but Mr. Seidenberg, who is as adroit in twisting words as any editor of the New York Times, shows you how nice that will be. The Revelations of Freud have shown that we are now just bundles of instincts. Mankind will necessarily evolve to the higher state of what Mr. Seidenberg calls “pure reason.” As he explains, “pure reason” is now found only among the forms of life that are biologically superior to us because better adapted to environment. The examples which he gives are “ants, bees, and termites,” whose “essentially unchanged survival during sixty million years testifies to the perfection of their adjustment…to the conditions of life.” We must strive to become like them — nay, the “ineluctable determinism” inherent in the “population explosion” and the need for a “more advanced society” will make us, willy nilly, just like ants and termites — intellectually and spiritually, that is, for Mr. Seidenberg does not seem to entertain a hope that human beings will ever be able to crawl about on six legs.

In this perfected socialist world there can be no change and hence no history: That is why the perfect man of the near future will be, in Seidenbergian terminology, “post-historic.” Everybody will be happy, because there will be no individuals — only organisms that are part of a species and have no separate consciousness. To see how attractive the inevitable future is, you have only to reflect, dear reader, how much happier you would be, if you were an ant or a cockroach in your basement. You could operate by what Mr. Seidenberg calls “pure reason.” You could not possibly be affected by religion, art, literature, philosophy, science, capitalism, racial discrimination, or any of the other horrid things that will have to be blotted out anyway in the interests of Equality and Social Justice. You could never have a thought to trouble you. You would have no consciousness; hence you would not know that you exist, and would have no organ that could feel pain when somebody steps on you. What more could you want?

If you are so reactionary as to prefer to be conscious, even at the cost of being unhappy from time to time, you may be amused by the similarity of Mr. Seidenberg’s vision of the future to the scene described in one of the oldest of the Babylonian tablets, on which the cuneiform characters represent an oddly sibilant and staccato language: a-na maat la tari kak-ka-rifi-ti-e ila istar marat ilu sin u-zu-un-sa is- kun, etc.

“To the land whence none return, the place of darkness, Ishtar, the daughter of Sin, her ear inclined.”Then inclined the daughter of Sin her ear to the house of darkness, the domain of Irkalla; to the prison from which he that enters comes not forth; to the road whose path does not return; …to the land where filth is their bread and their food is mud. The light they behold not; in unseeingness they dwell, and are clothed, like winged things, in a garment of scales…”

Of all of mankind’s nightmarish visions of a future existence, that Babylonian conception of the dead as crawling forever, like mindless insects, in a fetid and eternal night has always seemed to me the most gruesome.

Joy is not Around the Corner

Mr. Seidenberg’s ecstatic vision of the New Jerusalem has, I am sorry to say, imposed on a least two men of scientific eminence who should have known better. They permitted themselves to be confused by the theory of biological evolution. If man evolved, over a period of 500,000 years or more, from an ape (Australopithecus) that discovered that by picking up and wielding a long bone it could increase its efficiency in killing other apes, is it not possible that our species can go on evolving and become, in another 500,000 years or less, the perfectly adjusted biped termites that Mr. Seidenberg predicts? Heavens to Betsy, I’m not going to argue that point. Granted!

And isn’t the “population explosion” a fact? Sure it is, but don’t overlook one detail — the time factor. At the present rate, the globe, sometime between 2000 and 2005 A.D. — that is to say within forty years — will be infested by 5,000,000,000 anatomically human creatures, the maximum number for which food can be supplied by even the most intensive cultivation. And then, to keep the globe inhabitable at that bare subsistence level, it will be necessary to kill every year more people than now live in the whole United States — kill them with atomic bombs or clubs, as may be more convenient.

I shall not argue about what human beings could or could not become by biological evolution in half a million years: We all know, at least, that there is going to be no biological evolution in fifty years. And, if we stop a moment to think about it, we also know that the world is not going to have a population of five billion. Not ever.

The population of the world is going to be drastically reduced before the year 2000. [See Oliver's later revision of his prediction in his article "What Hath Man Wrought? [2]" -- Editor]

The reduction could come through natural causes. It is always possible — far more possible than you imagine, if you have not investigated the relevant areas of scientific knowledge — that next week or next year may bring the onset of a new pestilence that will have a proportional mortality as great as that of the epidemic in the time of the Antonines or the Black Plaque of the Middle Ages. Alternatively, the events described in John Christopher’s brilliant novel, No Blade of Grass, could become fact, instead of fiction, at any time. And there are at least three other ways, all scientifically possible, in which the world could be partly depopulated in short order by strictly natural forces beyond our control.

But if Nature does not act, men will. When things became a bit crowded in east Asia, for example, the Huns and, at a later time, the Mongols, swept a wide swath through the world as locusts sweep through a wheat field. And wherever they felt the inspiration, they were every bit as efficient as any quantity of hydrogen bombs you may care to imagine. In the natural course of human events, we shall see in the near future wars of extermination on scale and of an intensity that your mind will, at present, refuse to contemplate. The only question will be what peoples will be among the exterminated.

If the minority of the earth’s inhabitants that is capable of creating and continuing (as distinct from aping) a high civilization is exterminated (as it now seems resolved to be), or if for some reason wars of extermination fail to solve the problem, civilization will collapse from sheer lack of brains to keep it going, and the consequent reversion to global savagery will speedily take care of the excess in numbers. In a world of savages, not only would the intricate and hated technology of our civilization be abolished, but even the simplest arts might be forgotten. (Every anthropologist knows of tribes in Polynesia and Melanesia that forgot how to make canoes, although without them it became almost impossible to obtain the fish that they regard as the most delicious food, or how to make bows and arrows, although they needed them for more effective hunting and fighting.) A world of savages in 2100 probably would not have a population more numerous than the world had in 4000 B.C.

The ordinary course of nature and human events (separately or in combination) will, in one way or another, take care of the much-touted “population explosion,” and Mr. Seidenberg knows it. You have only to read him carefully to see that all his talk about history, biological evolution, and “ineluctable determinism” is strictly for the birds — or, at least, bird-brains.

Do-It-Yourself for Socialists

Like all internationalists, Mr. Seidenberg envisages a One World of universal socialism.

Every student of history and mankind (as distinct from the ignorant theorists who prefer to chirrup while hopping from cloud to cloud in Nephelococcygia) well knows what is needed for a successful and stable socialism. And our intelligent socialists know it, too. There are two essentials, viz.: (1) a mass of undifferentiated human livestock, sufficiently intelligent to be trained to perform routine and often complicated tasks, but too stupid to take thought for their own future; and (2) a small caste of highly intelligent planners, preferably of an entirely different race, who will direct the livestock and, with the aid of overseers who need be but little more intelligent than the overseen, make sure that the livestock work hard and breed properly and do not have unsocial thoughts. The owners must be so superior to the owned that the latter will not regard themselves as of the same species. The owners must be hedged about with a quasi-divinity, and their chief, therefore, must be represented as an incarnate god.

Mr. Seidenberg knows that and tells us so. Our blissful future, he says, is assured by the emergence of “administrators [whose] special talents place them above other men.” The most important of these special talents is enough intelligence to understand that “moral restraints and compassions [and] …the attitudes and values upon which they were based have become obsolete.” On the basis of such progressive thinking, “the relatively small elite of the organizers” will manipulate the “overwhelming social mass” and guide it toward its destiny, “the mute status of unconscious organisms.”

The Chosen Few will do this by promoting “the spiritual and psychological dehumanization of man” and “a vast organizational transmutation of life.” For this glorious purpose, various techniques are available; for example, as Mr. Seidenberg tells us, “there is, plainly, more than a nihilistic meaning in the challenging ambiguities of modern art.” And, in a masterfully managed society, “the gradually inculcated feeling of helplessness…will make the mass of humanity ever more malleable and dependent upon the complex functioning of society, with its ensuing regimentation under organized patterns of behavior.” But the Supermen will use, above all, “a scientific program of genetic control to assure the complete adjustment of the human mass to its destiny” and Reactionaries and other American swine, whose “anachronistic stance” and silly efforts to avoid “the mute status of unconscious organisms” show that they “belong essentially to the past.”

As for the Supermen, who form “the nucleus of an elite of administrative functionaries and organizers ruling over the vast mass of men,” you can bet your bottom dollar (so long as Master Jack permits you to have one) that that Master Race has no intention of becoming like the bipeds that it will supervise and selectively breed for more and better mindlessness until it has attained its “historic” goal, “the settling of the human race [as distinct from its owners] into an ecologic niche of permanent and static adjustment,” which, as Mr. Seidenberg says in a moment of candor, in simply “living death.” Obviously, when this goal has been achieved, human beings, deprived of mind and even consciousness, will differ from the Master Race as much as ants and bees now differ in intelligence from human beings. Glory be!

To any attentive reader of the book, it is clear that the author, under the guise of a transparently inconsistent prophecy about a distant future, is presenting a plan for a near future that is to be created, in spite of history, in spite of nature, and in spite of mankind, by the purposeful and concerted action of a small band of “elite” conspirators, comparable to, if not identical with, the directors of the International Communist Conspiracy.

To publish such a plan in a book sold to the general public seems a fantastic indiscretion, even when one allows for the breath-taking effrontery that our Internationalists are now showing in their confidence that Americans have already been so disarmed and entrapped in the “United Nations” that, for practical purposes, it’s all over except for the butchering. When I first read these books, therefore, I was inclined to believe that the author was trying to warn us.

The Veiled Prophet of Doylestown

My inquiries, necessarily hasty and perfunctory as I write this article to meet a deadline, have elicited almost no information about Mr. Seidenberg. I do not know what region on earth was blessed with his nativity, what academic institutions bestowed the benison of their degrees upon him, or even what may be his liaison with the University of North Carolina. He is said to be an architect, but he is not listed in the 1962 edition of the American Architects’ Directory. He is said to practice that art in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, but an informant in that town reports that he is not listed in the telephone directory as an architect, although there is listed under his name, without indication of profession or occupation, a telephone which did not answer, when called on successive days.

I do not have the facilities of the FBI, so all that I really know about Mr. Seidenberg, apart from his books, is that he surfaced momentarily on February 22, 1962, in the pages of the New York Times, to emit a yip for the abolition of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (And if you wonder why anyone should now yip against a Committee that appears to have been virtually silenced by the concerted howling of our enemies after the release of Operation Abolition, I can only tell you that, according to persons who should know, the Committee has amassed in Executive Sessions testimony which, if published, would expose some of the most powerful anti-humans in Washington.)

Mrs. Sarah Watson Emery, in her excellent book, Blood on the Old Well (prospect House, Dallas, cf. American Opinion, October, 1963, pp. 67 ff.), reports that the elusive Seidenberg, in a conversation with her, “clearly implied that he wrote the books in order to bring about the ghastly future” that he “so confidently predicts.” If Mrs. Emery is right, Mr. Seidenberg’s books are inspirational literature for the Master Race of “administrators,” who are now taking over the whole world. They can own and operate the world forever in perfect Peace, if, by a scientific application of genetics, they reduce human beings to the status of mindless insects.

Is One World Feasible?

You, my patient reader, may be a member of the Radical Right and hence unenthusiastic about the happiness that is being planned for you. If so, I confess that I, whom a learned colleague recently described as a “filthy Fascist swine,” share your misgivings. But let us here consider the Seidenbergian ideal exclusively as a problem in genetics. Is it possible?

Probably not, by the hit-and-miss methods that the Conspiracy has thus far employed.

As Mr. Seidenberg carefully points out, “Russia [under Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev] and America [under Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy] are basically akin by reason of the dominance of their organizational trends,” but — hélas! — even today “the collectivization of society is only in its incipient stages in Russia.” And the reason is obvious. Although Ulyanov (alias Lenin) and Bronstein (alias Trotsky) butchered millions of reactionary Russians who wanted to be individual human beings, and although Dzhugashvili (alias Stalin) butchered millions more, and although Saint Nick (formerly Khrushchev) shot, hacked to pieces, or starved seven million in the Ukraine alone when he as just a local manager for the Communist Conspiracy, the nasty Russians are still unregenerate. Although the world’s vermin have had absolute control of Russia for almost half a century and have certainly worked hard to exterminate every Russian who had in himself a spark of self-respect, human decency, or even the will to live, observers agree that the recent failure of crops would have precipitated a crisis and possibly even a revolt of blind desperation, if Master Jack had not ordered his American cattle to provide the wheat that Comrade Nick needed to keep his own restive cattle fairly quiet. And it is quite likely that if the Conspiracy were to lose control of the United States and so be forced to retreat somewhere in the world, the Russian people would revolt anyway. The most systematic butchery has not destroyed the genetic transmission of human instincts. And it is unlikely to do so for centuries, at least.

Americans are apt to be even more refractory, and I am sure that One Worlders, now that they think their final victory almost achieved, must be giving thought to the problem of what to do with them. (And I need not remind you that advanced minds are not troubled by “moral restraints” and the other “attitudes and values.”) The American kulaks were useful and even necessary to fight wars “to make the world safe for democracy” and to finance with “foreign aid” the Communist conquest of the world, but when that goal has been achieved, they are likely to be a real nuisance.

There are rumors, for example, that Master Jack is planning to send the U.S. Army — which, as purged by Yarmolinsky and his stooges, will presumably be a docile instrument for the abolition of the nation it was established to defend — to seal off one area of the country after another, drive the white swine from their homes, and search them to confiscate such firearms or other weapons as they may have in their possession. It may be necessary to beat a few hundred of the white pigs so that their squealing will teach the other livestock to obey their owner, but, according to the rumors, nothing more than that is contemplated. But even if the operation is successful, one can foresee endless trouble. Human instincts are more or less fixed by heredity.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Mr. Seidenberg foresees “long-range genetic manipulation designed not only to improve the human stock according to the social dictates of [the proprietors of] a collectivized humanity, but above all to eliminate, in one manner or another, any traces of anti-social deviation.”

Those are, doubtless, sound general principles, but what, specifically, is to be done with the Americans when the “United Nations” takes them over? One could, as Mr. Seidenberg delicately hints in one passage, just castrate all the males. (If this idea seems shocking to you, remember that that’s just your “anachronistic stance.”) Or one could adopt the policy which the Soviet, according to a report that was leaked “from U.N. official sources” and reported in the now defunct Northlander (September, 1958), uses in Lithuania, where all potentially troublesome males were rounded up and shipped to Siberia and then replaced in their own homes by public-spirited Mongolian males eager to improve the quality of the Lithuanian population. A Baluba or a Bakongo thus installed in every American home would not only effectively end “discrimination” and promote the “World Unity” desiderated by Internationalists, but would also — according to a “scientific” study made by a Professor Of Sociology in a tax-supported American university and reported both in his class-room lectures and in his broadcasts over a radio-station entirely owned by that university — fulfill the secret yearnings of all American womanhood.

This may seem a perfect solution (if you have a “One World” viewpoint), but it has, I fear, its drawbacks. Balubas and such are just fine for exterminating white men in Africa and creating chaos under direction from Washington and Moscow, but I suspect that anyone who tries to regiment them to do work is in for a powerful lot of trouble. After they have served their purpose, it will be necessary to exterminate them, too. And the Masters, after they have blotted out the civilization they hate, are going to need workers, not cannibals and other savages, if, in keeping with the Seidenbergian vision, they are to rule the world forever.

Now Americans and Europeans are excellent workers. What is needed, obviously, is not to destroy them but to convert them, as Mr. Seidenberg predicts, into true zombies, that is to say, creatures that have no will or personality of their own and therefore do whatever they are told. But that transformation, so far as I can learn from geneticists whom I have consulted, is genetically impossible by any process of selective breeding within any reasonable length of time — say a thousand years or less. This, I am sure, our author realizes, for after admitting that “the art of brainwashing and, even more so, the science of controlling society by pharmaceutical manipulation, are in their infancy,” he places his hope for the future in “the ever increasing techniques and the ever more refined arts of mental coercion.” Presumably, the human mind and will can be destroyed by drugs, or perhaps by an improved technique of lobotomy, to produce the kind of “mental health” requisite in the zombies who, like mindless insects, are to work to support the Master Race of the future. But this is not genetics, and the qualities thus induced in individuals cannot be transmitted genetically. The Masters, therefore, will be put to the trouble of operating on each generation of biped insects as it is produced — and, what is even worse, there is some reason to doubt that the zombies would or could reproduce themselves.

So, you see, the New Dispensation of which Internationalists dream is by no means assured, either historically or biologically. For that matter, it is even possible that enough Americans may object in time to frustrate the “determinism” that only their ignorance, apathy, or cowardice could make “ineluctable.” But I cannot speculate about that possibility here. I have sought only to show you, as dispassionately as possible, what kind of thoughts very advanced minds are thinking about you these days.

Source: http://www.revilo-oliver.com/news/1963/12/history-and-biology/ [3]


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/07/history-biology/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/schwabe-deathofthegravedigger.jpeg

[2] What Hath Man Wrought?: http://revilo-oliver.com/rpo/What_Hath_Man_Wrought.html

[3] http://www.revilo-oliver.com/news/1963/12/history-and-biology/: http://www.revilo-oliver.com/news/1963/12/history-and-biology/

vendredi, 13 mai 2011

Rébellion n°47

 

sciences boîte de Pandore.png

Rébellion n°47

Au sommaire :

Editorial

Le crépuscule de l’Odyssée


Sciences et capitalisme

>La science en péril

>La question de la science

>Courte réflexion sur la science et le cas du « nanomonde »

 

>Les Nanotechnologies : Aux frontières du réel ?

 

Entretien

Des animaux et des hommes, entretien avec Alain de Benoist

 

Chronique des livres

Des animaux et des hommes. La place de l’homme dans la nature d’Alain de Benoist

Clelia ou le pouvoir des prêtres, de Giuseppe Garibaldi

 

Disponible contre 4 euros à l'adresse :

 Rébellion C/O RSE - BP 62124 - 31020 TOULOUSE Cedex 02 FRANCE

vendredi, 06 mai 2011

The Coming Chinese Superstate

Richard HOSTE

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Review: Richard Lynn
Eugenics: A Reassessment
Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers 2001

eugenics.jpgOne of the only valid points made by the critics of Bell Curve was that if the science was accepted, then eugenics, which Hernstein and Murray refused to endorse, becomes the rational solution to society’s ills. Steven Pinker, the next major public thinker associated with the hereditarian position, likewise refused to follow his own logic far enough. One scholar who doesn’t flinch is psychologist Richard Lynn. Eugenics is not only right, but we have a duty to increase the frequency of genes for positive traits and reduce the frequency of genes for negative traits. Once you determine that something is a genetic problem it cries out for a genetic solution. Eugenics: A Reassessment looks at the history of eugenics, the ethical case for it and its future. Here Lynn goes beyond his role as a psychologist and gives us his own theory of the coming end of history.

The Rise and Fall of Eugenics

Eugenic ideas existed long before the publications of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. In The Republic, Plato pictured a society where rulers, soldiers, and workers would be bred on the same principles of the breeding of plants and livestock, about which much must have been known in 380 B.C. Still, it was the discovery of evolution that was the catalyst of these ideas taking off in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Biologist, statistician, and psychologist Sir Francis Galton was the main prophet of eugenics. He spent his life forming organizations, writing, and spreading the word about humanity’s potential for improvement. He carried out the first studies that showed nature to be more important than nurture in determining intelligence and character.

By the early 1900s eugenics was endorsed by practically all biologists and geneticists, politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill, and thinkers across the political spectrum, including Bertrand Russell, H. L. Mencken, and George Bernard Shaw. Lynn makes the distinction between positive eugenics, encouragement given to society’s best to produce children, and negative eugenics, trying to set limits on the breeding of the inferior. It was the latter that was easier to legislate on.

The first American sterilization law was passed in Indiana in 1907 “to prevent the procreation of confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists.” By 1913 similar acts had been passed in 12 states and a further 19 had laws on the books by 1931. The constitutionality of these laws was challenged in court and in 1927 Buck v. Bell went to the supreme court. The case centered around a mentally retarded woman who was born to a mentally retarded mother and gave birth to yet another retard. Her hospital applied to have her sterilized, and Christian groups protested. The court ruled 8-1 in favor of sterilization. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the following in the famous decision.

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for these lesser sacrifices . . . in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute the degenerate offspring of crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit for continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccinations is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Unfortunately, over the twentieth century only about 60,000 American sterilizations would take place, which amounted to less than 0.1 percent of mentally retarded and psychopathic people. Sweden did a little better, sterilizing the same amount, totaling one percent of the entire population. In Japan, 16,520 women met the same fate until their law was repealed in 1996. In Denmark, a third of all retards over a ten year span. Unsurprisingly, the all-time champions of sterilization were the Germans, who sterilized 300,000 people after their sterilization law was passed in 1933.

As Lynn points out, it’s not all that unusual for a scientific theory to be accepted and then rejected. What makes eugenics unique is that it’s a rejected theory that turned out to be true. While the importance of heredity in determining individual and group traits is well-established, by the end of the twentieth century to call something eugenic was to condemn it. The author blames horror at the crimes of Nazi Germany and the increasing value given to individual over social rights. In recent years courts in the US and Britain have said that parents can have retarded women in their care sterilized, ruling against civil liberties organizations who’ve joined with Christian groups in arguing that all people have a right to as many children as they can produce. While these legal decisions aren’t made on eugenic grounds, we should be thankful for the effect.

The arguments against eugenics don’t hold up. First is the claim that we can’t decide what positive and negative traits are. It’s hard to argue with Galton’s original three characteristics of intelligence, health, and character (close enough to conscientiousness in modern psychology) being desirable. Who would argue that disease could be preferable to health or stupidity to genius? It’s a case of moral relativism taken to the extreme.

Lynn looks at other characteristics we may select for but doesn’t find any beyond Galton’s original three. Society needs a wide range of people on the continuum of extraverted/introverted and neurotic/relaxed in a way that it doesn’t need a wide range of propensity to break the law or catch diseases. He also says that beauty provides no social good, and people have different definitions of it. Here is the only place I part ways with the author. Among environmentalists (people who care about the environment, not anti-hereditarians), beauty is seen as a legitimate reason to preserve certain forests and trees that provide no economic good. It’s why we save redwood trees but not swamps. As far as the lack of a universal standard, Peter Frost demolishes that as a PC myth. Even if everyone didn’t agree that blue eyes and white skin were the most beautiful, every race could select based on their own standards.

The idea that eugenics wouldn’t work is also answered here. If we determined that it wouldn’t be possible to select for certain traits in living organisms, then not only eugenics but horticulture, animal domestication and even evolution itself would all have to be rejected too. As a matter of fact, heritability of running speed among horses has been found to be between 15 and 35 percent heritable, lower than the lowest estimates for intelligence or psychopathy among humans. Any trait that is passed on genetically can be made more or less common or enhanced among a population.

Classical Eugenics

Lynn differentiates between classical eugenics and new eugenics, the use of biotechnology. A section is given to each.

The only country to practice classical positive eugenics in the modern world has been Singapore, under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew. Higher earners were given tax breaks for children and a government unit was set up to bring college graduates together in social settings like dances and cruises to encourage relationships and procreation. In three short years, the results were impressive.

Births in Singapore

 

Education Level of Mother 1987   1990  
  Number Percent Number Percent
Below Secondary 26,719 61.3 26,718 52.3
Secondary and above 16,012 36.7 24,411 47.7

Between 1987 and 1990, births to college educated women went from 36.7 percent of all births to 47.7. Obviously, it’s not hopeless, and the problem of dysgenics can be corrected if a government sets its mind to it. In Nazi Germany, loans were given to couples determined to be of good genetic stock. For each child they produced, 25 percent of the loan would be written off. Whether such things can be done in a democracy, especially a multi-racial one, is a different question.

The biggest victory for negative eugenics has been the liberalization of abortion laws. Although justified as based on a “woman’s right to choose,” those who have unintended pregnancies are usually of low intelligence and those with anti-social tendencies. Thus, increasing the availability of abortion is eugenic. Those who are concerned about good breeding should support causes traditionally associated with the left like abortion on demand and making birth control freely available.

The Promise of Biotechnology

The most exciting part of this book is the section on the new eugenics, and how biotechnology may make all the questions raised here obsolete. Prenatal diagnosis can now screen for some of the most common genetic diseases, and the fetuses can be aborted. In the 1990s, this was estimated to reduce incidences of genetic disorders at birth by 5 percent. As the technology becomes better and more widely available we can expect the rate of genetic disease to drop. It’s a matter of time before embryos can be screened for other traits like beauty and intelligence.

Gene therapy is the attempt to help an individual by inserting genes for positive traits. These genes are then passed on to offspring. In the 1980s, this technology was used on mice to treat a heredity disease and by the 1990s was used to treat human disorders. Like prenatal screening, it’s only a matter of time before this technology can be used for the selection of whatever parents desire.

Embryo selection consists of taking a number of eggs from a woman, fertilizing them with the sperm of a partner in vitro, testing each for desirable traits and inserting the best embryo. The second, third, and fourth best can be saved for possible future use and the rest discarded. When Lynn’s book was written in 2001, it was possible to test for sex and thousands of genetic diseases.

In the twenty-first century it will become possible to test embryos for the presence of genes affecting numerous other characteristics, including late-onset diseases and disorders; intelligence; special cognitive abilities, such as mathematical, linguistic, and musical aptitudes; personality traits; athletic abilities; height; body build; and physical appearance. It will then be possible for couples to examine the genetic printouts of a number of embryos and select for implantation the ones they regard as having the most desirable genetic characteristics.

Before this happens some technical issues need to be addressed, such as identifying the desirable genes. That’s going to happen over the next few decades. Right now it’s possible to hormonally stimulate a woman to produce around 25 embryos at one time. With this technology, even parents of poor stock will be able to produce at least average children. Couples can be expected to produce embryos within a range of 30 IQ points; 15 over the parents‘ average to 15 below. With embryo selection the IQ of a population will have the potential to be raised 15 points in a single generation. Average intelligence can be expected to keep increasing until we hit our limit and new mutations pop up, the way average speed among thoroughbreds has been rising without the fastest times doing so in decades. In 2001, in vitro fertilization cost between $40,000 and $200,000 in the US and $3,000 to $4,000 in Britain, due to lower health care costs in general. Today, it’s a fraction of that. Like all technology, the quality can be expected to improve and the price to drop.

Western governments may outlaw all these technologies, but they will be legal somewhere, and as these options became cheaper and better known more couples will travel to take advantage of them. The situation will be similar to when abortion was only available in certain US states or European countries, and women desiring to have one would simply take a bus.

Not everybody will be able to afford biotechnology, and some ethicists reject it on those grounds. Of course, there are all kinds of things that rich people can afford that the poor can’t; we don’t outlaw them all. Lynn optimistically points out that no technology that can help humanity has ever been successfully suppressed. The inherent quality gap between the genetically engineered upper class and the ‘natural’ lower class will continue to grow until the former decides to sterilize the latter or forces them to use biotechnology themselves.

Why China is the Future

In 1994 China passed the Eugenic Law. All pregnant women were required to undergo embryo screening and abort fetuses with genetic disorders. This was a follow-up to the famous one-child policy introduced in 1979 that brought the birth rate down to 1.9 per woman.

Attitudes of elites and those who work in the relevant fields are likely to determine what technologies are accepted and how liberally they’ll be used. A survey was conducted between 1994 and 1996 asking geneticists and physicians around the world whether they agreed with the statement “An important goal of genetic counseling is to reduce the number of deleterious genes in the population.”

Country Percentage of Geneticists and Physicians Agreeing with Eugenic Goals
China 100
India 87
Turkey 73
Peru 71
Spain 67
Poland 66
Russia 58
Greece 58
Cuba 57
Mexico 52
Major 

 

Western

Democracies

<33

In addition to the negative attitudes of the elites towards anything eugenic, other reasons we can expect these ideas not to win fast acceptance in the West are the value placed on individual rights, democracy, and the existence of low IQ minorities who would be disproportionately affected by any measures aimed at improving the genetic quality of the population. While many countries in the third world might feel positively about eugenic measures, the attitudes in China are the most favorable and when that is combined with the advantages of an authoritarian government, a lack of dysgenic immigration, and a high IQ starting point it’s not hard to believe that the Chinese will continue to be the most enthusiastic and efficient users of biotechnology.

So how will this nation of a billion people treat the rest of the world after it’s raised its IQ to 150+? Lynn might be too optimistic here. He believes the Chinese will colonize the world and try to improve the IQs and living standards of their subjects. The Europeans will be kept around for their biological uniqueness and admired for their cultural accomplishments, the way that the Romans subjugated the Greeks but appreciated their philosophy and art. If the Chinese decide that the Europeans should be preserved they’d be doing more for them than whites are currently doing for themselves. A global eugenic superstate led by by the Chinese will be the “end of history.”

Lynn’s forecasts the next 100 years with a stone-cold detachment. The first government to utilize the power of biotechnology will take over the world. Thanks to third world immigration and egalitarianism, the decline of the West seems inevitable and eugenic policies unlikely. The future of humanity being in the hands of the dictators in Beijing may not be the most comforting idea in the world, but at least the reader of Eugenics may be convinced that intelligence and civilization will continue somewhere.

For a review of Richard Lynn’s Dysgenics see here.

jeudi, 05 mai 2011

The Fall of Man: Richard Lynn's "Dysgenics"

Richard HOSTE

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Review: Richard Lynn (photo)
Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations
Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1996

rlynn-2s-300x282.jpgWhen it comes to population, quality matters more than quantity. While educated Westerners never tire of sprinkling their conversations with the word “overpopulation,” voicing concern about population worth is taboo. Put it this way: you have to spend the rest of your life in a city filled with Nigerians or Japanese. You can either pick the ethnic makeup or the amount of people in the city. Which would you choose? As it’s settled that genes influence character and intelligence, could these traits be declining in some or all populations? Has it to some extent? Anecdotes exist about single educated women and fertile welfare queens, but hard data is needed.

While support for eugenics has been around since the time of Plato, the first person to worry about genetic deterioration was French physician Benedict August Morel. He’s an obscure figure today and much better known is the more important Sir Francis Galton, who coined the term eugenics in 1883. He thought that more genes for lower intelligence and poor character were concentrated in the lower classes, whose higher fertility would lead to a decline in genetic quality. Galton spent his life working to reverse the trend. He eventually convinced Darwin himself of the danger. Biologist Alfred Russell Wallace wrote:

In one of my last conversations with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of humanity, on the ground that in our modern civilisation natural selection had no play and the fittest did not survive.

It wasn’t until 1974 that Nobel prize winning physicist William Shockley called the process dysgenics. Darwin went on to despair over the excessive breeding of “the scum.” Data has always been needed on whether his fears had been justified. Richard Lynn brings together studies and data from the last 200 years dealing with the connection between fertility and intelligence/socioeconomic status from all over the world. How afraid should we be?

Selection throughout Time

The conditions that hunter-gatherers lived in insured an upkeep of genetic quality. Usually there was a chief who had to have a certain amount of intelligence to acquire and maintain his position. He had the most access to females, there would be relatively high ranking men who had one wife and many of the unfit never bred. Mutations that popped up which adversely affected health would be weeded out. Early nation-states continued with polygamy.

With Western man’s transition to civilization selection was weakened but not eliminated. The higher social classes enjoyed better nutrition so had better health and children more likely to survive into adulthood. Christianity struck a blow against the Western gene pool by enforcing celibacy among the priesthood but probably more than made up for it by prohibitions against adultery. Most who have children out of wed-lock then and now have/had lower intelligence and less self-control. Overall, the years 1500-1800 were good for Europe’s gene pool. In England from 1620-1624 the middle classes reported 4.4 children per woman compared to 2.1 for the working class. Part of the reason why is life expectancy. In Berlin from 1710-1799 the average life expectancy for the upper class was 29.8 years compared to 20.3 for the lower class. The numbers for Geneva, Rouen and Neuruppin in the 18th century are similarly tilted towards the former. This didn’t mean that everybody died when they were 20-30 years old but that more of the lower classes were dying in childhood before they could mate.

Lynn understands that for these numbers to mean anything it would have to be shown that there was social mobility. If everybody was stuck in their own class with no opportunity to rise or fall then we would expect different social classes to be similar and not worry about differences in fertility. Pitrim Sorokin looked at a wide range of societies and found that there has never been one with no social mobility at all. The closest thing has been the caste system in India, but even these classes weren’t absolutely closed. Economist historian S.J. Payling concluded that there was significant social mobility in Europe from at least the 14th century on.

Natural Selection Breaks Down: Health and Intelligence

Mutations occasionally pop up in any population. Since the vast majority are adverse, stable fertility for an entire population still means deterioration. The maintenance of the quality of the population requires not just a stable population at all levels but the active weeding out of the unfit. The results of the slacking of selection in our modern world is apparent in disease. Today, almost 1% of children born have a mutation for a common genetic disorder. Due to carriers of bad genes surviving and new mutations, it’s estimated that the rates of hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria are increasing every generation by 26%, 120%, and 300% respectively. Humanity requires that we save children that can be saved but breeding for those with diseased genes needs to be restricted. Lynn hints that better genetic screening and selective abortion can offset some of the consequences of modern medicine.

American psychologist Theodore Lentz was the first to devise a method for finding the relationship between intelligence and fertility. He tested the IQs of children and found out how many siblings they had. Assuming that children have the same IQ as their parents, if those with lower IQs had more brothers and sisters than children with high IQs then it could be determined that dysgenics is happening. In 1927 Lentz calculated an IQ drop of 4 points per generation. Calculations in Britain found a drop of about 2 points per generation. These surveys didn’t include the childless but since they are disproportionately those with higher IQs the studies actually underestimate the extent of dysgenic fertility. Reviewing various studies and using findings from twin and adoption cases showing that IQ is 82% heritable, Lynn calculates a genotypic IQ decline of 5 points in Britain from 1890-1980. In the US he calculates a drop of 2.5 IQ points for whites and 6.2 for blacks over three generations. Interestingly, women are shown to universally have more dysgenic fertility than men. This is partly because low IQ men probably have a harder time finding mates than low IQ women.

The Fall of Greece

Greece is a particularly interesting example. Papavassiliou (1954) looked at IQ, socioeconomic status and fertitlity for men and came up with the following results.

Intelligence and Fertility in Greece, 1950s

Socioeconomic StatusNumber SurveyedMean IQNumber of Children
Professionals 41 117.2 1.78
Skilled Workers 80 100.9 2.66
Semi-skilled Workers 27 91 4
Unskilled Workers 67 82.2 5.56

My calculations give an IQ of 96.9 for the parent generation and an IQ drop of 4.9. Using a heritability of .82 for IQ puts the IQ of the children’s generation at 92.9 (IQ of parent generation – .82 x 4.9). Lynn has found elsewhere that the IQ of Greece is 95. This low (for Europe) figure is surprising considering the country’s historical accomplishments. Papavassiliou’s data may solve the puzzle.

Does the Flynn Effect Disprove Eugenics?

While science has shown that traits for IQ and socioeconomic status are heritable and those with poor genes are outbreeding those with good genes, actual performance on IQ tests in the industrialized world has risen over the last century. How can this be? This seeming paradox is called the Flynn effect, after the scientist who estimated IQ gains of about 3-4 points per decade over the 20th century.

We can rule out the effect of increased familiarity with written tests or better education because these gains are present in children as young as two years old. It is doubtful that it is due to increased stimulation because adoption studies show that the effect of shared environment is negligible; two biologically unrelated people raised in the same house are no more alike than any two random strangers. Lynn’s explanation is that the Flynn effect is due to better nutrition. This seems like the best explanation, as over the same time period height and brain size have increased by one standard deviation: the same as the increase in IQ.

So while genotypic intelligence, which can be seen as underlying genetic quality, has decreased, actual performance, phenotypic intelligence, has seen an increase. This increase can’t last forever and the evidence shows that in the developed world, with even the poorest suffering from obesity, the Flynn effect has hit its ceiling. We can now expect a decrease in observed intelligence in the developed even discounting low IQ third world immigration.

The Case of Character

Francis Galton and the early eugenicists weren’t only concerned with the decline in intelligence and health but what they called character: a moral sense, ability to delay gratification and work towards long term goals and sense of duty. Modern psychologists call this conscientiousness and Lynn gives a working estimate for it being 66% heritable. The news here is even worse than the data on intelligence.

Looking at criminals and psychopaths and their number of siblings yields a decline in consciousness that is twice the rate of the decline in intelligence. This has had real life consequences

The straightforward prediction is that the high fertility of criminals has led to an increase in the number of genes in the population responsible for crime and this will show up in increasing crime rates. These increasing crime rates have certainly occurred in most of the economically developed nations during the second half of the twentieth century. In the United States, crime rates approximately tripled between 1960 and 1990; in Britain they quadrupled, and similar increases have occurred in many other countries.

Rates of out-of-wedlock births tell a similar story. Western populations are morally worse than ever and we can expect the modern welfare state to continue to accelerate the decline. Unfortunately, most social scientists and policy makers are too steeped in the environmentalist dogma to deal with these problems.

Does the Universality of the Problem Mean It’s Hopeless?

While there are no direct studies for IQ and fertility in the third world we can check to see how socioeconomic status and education, both correlated with IQ, relate to number of children. Lynn calls the birth rate of the lowest class over the birth rate of the highest class the dysgenic ratio. For example, if those in the lowest class have 3 children per woman and the higher class have 2, the dysgenic ratio is 3/2 = 1.5. Anything over 1 indicates dysgenic fertility and anything under 1 indicates eugenic fertility. While a number over 2 is high for modern Western nations, ratios have been calculated at 3.1 for Columbia, 2.6 for Guatemala, 2.7 for Mexico and 3.1 for Brazil. Muslim and African countries have lower ratios, but only because even the highest classes have large numbers of children. In a worldwide survey the only exceptions are Bangladesh, Fiji and Indonesia who have ratios of 1.01, 0.93, and 0.86 respectively. The developing world can be expected to remain “developing” indefinitely.

So dysgenic fertility is found everywhere: among rich and poor and every race. Does that mean it’s hopeless? We won’t know until we at least acknowledge and try to deal with the problem. Communism once controlled half the planet and today its equivalent is globalization and the supposed triumph of liberal democracy. While communists can say that true communism “has never been tried” and continue to be liberals, the legacy of Nazism poisons the eugenics movement. Of course, blaming the ideas behind eugenics for the crimes of the Nazis is as silly as blaming the ideology of the welfare state for Soviet labor camps. So there is no rational reason why eugenics can’t capture the hearts and minds of policy makers the way it did 100 years ago. While the facts of differential fertility may discomfort our feminized elites we must never stop repeating that the cost of doing nothing is the end of civilization. There’s no virtue in ignoring that.

Source: HBD Books

dimanche, 27 mars 2011

Krebszahlen steigen weltweit...

Krebszahlen steigen weltweit, da in den Entwicklungsländer immer mehr amerikanische Nahrungsmittel gegessen und US-Produkte genutzt werden

David Gutierrez

Die Zahl der Krebskranken steigt weltweit an, besonders aber in den Industrienationen, heißt es in einem Bericht, der von der Amerikanischen Krebsgesellschaft (ACS) anlässlich des Weltkrebstages in der Fachzeitschrift der Gesellschaft – CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians – veröffentlicht wurde. In dem Bericht heißt es weiter, 2008 wurden schätzungsweise 12,6 Millionen neue Krebsfälle diagnostiziert und 7,6 Millionen Menschen starben an Krebs. Die überwältigende Mehrzahl dieser Fälle – 7,1 Millionen Erkrankungen und 4,8 Million Todesfälle – trat in den Industrienationen auf. Die Verbreitung einer sogenannten »Wohlstandskrankheit« wie Krebs auf die ärmeren Länder kann unter anderem darauf zurückgeführt werden, dass in diesen Regionen in zunehmendem Maße ungesunde Lebensweisen wie zum Beispiel Rauchen, Sesshaftigkeit und eine schlechte Ernährungsweise übernommen werden.

 

 

Die Forscher weisen darauf hin, dass ein Drittel der Krebstoten 2008 durch einfache Maßnahmen wie etwa Aufhören zu rauchen, weniger trinken von Alkohol, eine gesündere Ernährungsweise und mehr körperliche Bewegung sowie eine Reduzierung des Infektionsrisikos hätte verhindert werden können. Mehr als 7.300 Menschenleben könnten so täglich gerettet werden.

Mehr: http://info.kopp-verlag.de/medizin-und-gesundheit/gesundes-leben/david-gutierrez/krebszahlen-steigen-weltweit-da-in-den-entwicklungslaender-immer-mehr-amerikanische-nahrungsmittel-.html

dimanche, 28 novembre 2010

Alexis Carrel: A Commemoration

Alexis Carrel:
A Commemoration, Part 1

Kerry BOLTON

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

[M]en cannot follow modern civilization along its present course, because they are degenerating. They have been fascinated by the beauty of the sciences of inert matter. They have not understood that their body and consciousness are subjected to natural laws, more obscure than, but as inexorable as, the laws of the sidereal world. Neither have they understood that they cannot transgress these laws without being punished.

They must, therefore, learn the necessary relations of the cosmic universe, of their fellow men, and of their inner selves, and also those of their tissues and their mind. Indeed, man stands above all things. Should he degenerate, the beauty of civilization, and even the grandeur of the physical universe, would vanish. . . . Humanity’s attention must turn from the machines of the world of inanimate matter to the body and the soul of man, to the organic and mental processes which have created the machines and the universe of Newton and Einstein.[1]

acarrel.jpgAlexis Carrel, an observer of the material universe, was one among a unique lineage of scientists who sought out solutions to what they considered were the primary problems confronting the modern world. For Carrel the material progress that was jumping by leaps and bounds from the 19th century across into his century was causing moral, physical and spiritual degeneration. While scientists, then as now overspecialized, and devoid of a broad perspective, were making new discoveries in the physical and social sciences, problems of degeneration and its ultimate consequences were not being sufficiently addressed in a holistic manner.

Within the same lineage of genius that was to consider these problems, we might also include Jung and Konrad Lorenz, Raymond Cattell, and the new generation of sociobiologists. For example Lorenz, the father of ethology, also applying his observations of the natural world to the state of modern man, came to conclusions analogous to those of Carrel, and also attempted to warn of the consequences:

All the advantages that man has gained from his ever-deepening understanding of the natural world that surrounds him, his technological, chemical and medical progress, all of which should seem to alleviate human suffering . . .  tends instead to favor humanity’s destruction.[2]

For Jung there were problems for humanity inherent in his modern Civilization insofar as the unconscious is a layered structure each representing different eras of history from the primeval to the present. Therefore much about the psyche comes from the past, including the distant past, and there are aspect of the psyche that are not attuned to modern Civilization. Man’s psyche has not in totality caught up with the Civilization that he has created.[3] It was also a problem that Carrel sought to resolve.

However, what is even more unique about Carrel, is the extent to which he departs from the atheism of certain of today’s sociobiolgists (Richard Dawkins being an obvious example) giving the spiritual and metaphysical primary acknowledgement, as did Jung in his departure from Freudian psychoanalysis.

Scientific Background

Carrel was born in Lyons om June 28, 1873, and died in Paris on November 5, 1944. Graduating with a doctorate from Lyons, he taught operative surgery at the University, and worked at Lyon Hospital, which included experimental work. From 1906 he worked at the Rockefeller Center for Medical Research, New York, where he undertook most of his experiments in surgery, and was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1912 for developing a method of suturing blood vessels.

During World War I Carrel served as a Major in the French Army Medical Corps and co-invented the widely used Carrel-Dakin method of cleaning deep wounds, which was particularly effective in preventing gangrene and is credited with saving thousands of lives.

Carrel’s studies centered around tissue and organ transplantation, in 1908 devising methods for the transplanting of whole organs. In 1935 he invented in collaboration with US aviator and bio-mechanic Charles Lindbergh a machine for supplying a sterile respiratory system to organs removed from the body.

Carrel received honors throughout the world for his pioneering medical work, which has laid the basis for today’s organ transplant operations; his work with tissue cultures also having contributed significantly to the understanding of viruses and the preparation of vaccines.

In 1935, at the instigation of a group of friends, Carrel wrote Man the Unknown which caused antagonism with the new director of the Rockefeller Institute, Herbert S. Gasser. In 1939 Carrel retired and his laboratories and Division of Experimental Surgery were closed.

When World War II erupted Carrel returned to France as a member of a special mission for the French Ministry of Health, 1939–1940. Returning briefly to the USA, Carrel went back to France in 1941 via Spain. Although declining to become Minister of Public Health, he became Director of the Carrel Foundation for the Study of Human Problems, which was established by the Vichy Government, a position he held until his death. Here young scientists, physicians, lawyers, and engineers came together to study economics, political science, and nutrition, reflecting the eclectic nature of the holistic approach Carrel insisted upon as being necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of Civilization.

When the Allied forces occupied France in August, 1944, Carrel was suspended from his post and accused of being a “collaborator.”[4] Although he was cleared of charges of “collaboration,” embittered by the accusations he died two weeks later of a heart attack.[5]

Man the Unknown

The book for which the great physician had already received ridicule in 1935 in a quip-filled sneer in Time Magazine, but that became a world-wide bestseller, and the one most commonly associated with Carrel, is Man the Unknown, a scientific diagnosis of the maladies of modern civilization.[6].

Like Jung and Lorenz, the fundamental question for Carrel was that man’s morality and soul were not in accord with his modern civilization, his industrialization, and mass production. This was having a degenerating effect morally, physically, and spiritually.

As a physiologist Carrel explains the constitution of man physiologically and mentally, but these are just the material manifestations from which moral and spiritual lessons must be drawn in reconstituting civilization in accord with man’s spiritual and moral natures, which include an innate religious sense and a mysticism that has been enervated by materialism. Hence some of the questions posed by Carrel are:

We are very far from knowing what relations exist between skeleton, muscles, and organs, and mental and spiritual activities. We are ignorant of the factors that bring about nervous equilibrium and resistance to fatigue and to diseases. We do not know how moral sense, judgment, and audacity could be augmented. What is the relative importance of intellectual, moral, and mystical activities? What is the significance of aesthetic and religious sense? What form of energy is responsible for telepathic communications? Without any doubt, certain physiological and mental factors determine happiness or misery, success or failure. But we do not know what they are. We cannot artificially give to any individual the aptitude for happiness. As yet, we do not know what environment is the most favorable for the optimum development of civilized man. Is it possible to suppress struggle, effort, and suffering from our physiological and spiritual formation? How can we prevent the degeneracy of man in modern civilization? Many other questions could be asked on subjects which are to us of the utmost interest. They would also remain unanswered. It is quite evident that the accomplishments of all the sciences having man as an object remain insufficient, and that our knowledge of ourselves is still most rudimentary.[7]

A primary concern for Carrel was with the artificiality of modern civilization, from modes of dwelling to food production, including the factory raising of hens, questions which have in just recent years come into vogue with the “Left.” The question of factory and other forms of work drudgery and their adverse impact upon both menial and mental workers is regarded by Carrel as a major issue of concern in having a degenerative effect.

The environment which has molded the body and the soul of our ancestors during many millenniums has now been replaced by another. This silent revolution has taken place almost without our noticing it. We have not realized its importance. Nevertheless, it is one of the most dramatic events in the history of humanity. For any modification in their surroundings inevitably and profoundly disturbs all living beings. We must, therefore, ascertain the extent of the transformations imposed by science upon the ancestral mode of life, and consequently upon ourselves.[8]

The environment, including accommodation and working conditions, while materially very much better than those of our ancestors, has become artificial, is not rooted to any community, or family; no craft or individual creativity is involved. “Everywhere, in the cities, as well as in the country, in private houses as in factories, in the workshop, on the roads, in the fields, and on the farms, machines have decreased the intensity of human effort.” The types of food available is an important aspect considered by Carrel, and one which has in recent years been brought up especially by “Green” politicians[9] in the West. It is an example of what Carrel means by the material abundance yet simultaneous lowering of quality of modern civilization leading to human degeneration rather than elevation:

The aliments of our ancestors, which consisted chiefly of coarse flour, meat, and alcoholic drinks, have been replaced by much more delicate and varied food. Beef and mutton are no longer the staple foods. The principal elements of modern diet are milk, cream, butter, cereals refined by the elimination of the shells of the grain, fruits of tropical as well as temperate countries, fresh or canned vegetables, salads, large quantities of sugar in the form of pies, candies, and puddings. Alcohol alone has kept its place. The food of children has undergone a profound change. It is now very artificial and abundant. The same may be said of the diet of adults. The regularity of the working-hours in offices and factories has entailed that of the meals. Owing to the wealth which was general until a few years ago, and to the decline in the religious spirit and in the observance of ritualistic fasts, human beings have never been fed so punctually and uninterrupted.[10]

Now of course the problems of artificial diet of which Carrel was warning seventy-five years ago have reached the point of almost tragic-comic proportions with the virtually global phenomena of “fast food,” and the obesity problem that is becoming a real health issue in the West.[11]

The consequences not only of abundant – albeit un-nutritious food – coupled with an ease of life and the advances in medicine that have eliminated many diseases have paradoxically seen an increase in degenerative nervous diseases:

But we are confronted with much graver problems, which demand immediate solution. While infantile diarrhea, tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid fever, etc., are being eliminated, they are replaced by degenerative diseases. There are also a large number of affections of the nervous system and of the mind. In certain states the multitude of the insane confined in the asylums exceeds that of the patients kept in all other hospitals. Like insanity, nervous disorders and intellectual weakness seem to have become more frequent. They are the most active factors of individual misery and of the destruction of families. Mental deterioration is more dangerous for civilization than the infectious diseases to which hygienists and physicians have so far exclusively devoted their attention.[12]

What Carrel is suggesting throughout is that quantity has been substituted for quality, from food to arts. It is a problem arising from the mass nature of liberalism and socialism, and of capitalism, that also bothered the literati at the turn of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries,[13] and has continued apace with the technological advances of communications over just the past few years. Universal education and the mass communication of literature etc. has expanded the reading public for example, but has not encouraged the maintenance of cultural standards. Mass-marketing requires quantity and a fast turnover whether in computers or in what now passes for “literature” and “art.”

In spite of the immense sums of money expended on the education of the children and the young people of the United States, the intellectual elite does not seem to have increased. The average man and woman are, without any doubt, better educated and, superficially at least, more refined. The taste for reading is greater. More reviews and books are bought by the public than in former times. The number of people who are interested in science, letters, and art has grown. But most of them are chiefly attracted by the lowest form of literature and by the imitations of science and of art. It seems that the excellent hygienic conditions in which children are reared, and the care lavished upon them in school, have not raised their intellectual and moral standards.

Modern civilization seems to be incapable of producing people endowed with imagination, intelligence, and courage. In practically every country there is a decrease in the intellectual and moral caliber of those who carry the responsibility of public affairs. The financial, industrial, and commercial organizations have reached a gigantic size. They are influenced not only by the conditions of the country where they are established, but also by the state of the neighboring countries and of the entire world. In all nations, economic and social conditions undergo extremely rapid changes. Nearly everywhere the existing form of government is again under discussion. The great democracies find themselves face to face with formidable problems—problems concerning their very existence and demanding an immediate solution. And we realize that, despite the immense hopes which humanity has placed in modern civilization, such a civilization has failed in developing men of sufficient intelligence and audacity to guide it along the dangerous road on which it is stumbling. Human beings have not grown so rapidly as the institutions sprung from their brains. It is chiefly the intellectual and moral deficiencies of the political leaders, and their ignorance, which endanger modern nations.[14]

Carrel in his preliminary remarks concludes with one of the primary symptoms of cultural decay, that of declining birthright, which Spengler and others have commented upon in the same context also, and it is a problem taken up again in Man The Unknown and in his posthumously published Reflections on Life. Indeed, as this is written there have been some media remarks and commentary of New Zealand having the second highest abortion rate in the developed world (after Sweden) and as usual ‘sexual health experts’ are trotted out to offer superficial explanation such as lack of adequate sex education for the young (which according to the experts should begin at pre-school level).[15]

Finally, we must ascertain how the new mode of life will influence the future of the race. The response of the women to the modifications brought about in the ancestral habits by industrial civilization has been immediate and decisive. The birth rate has at once fallen. This event has been felt most precociously and seriously in the social classes and in the nations which were the first to benefit from the progress brought about, directly or indirectly, by the applications of scientific discoveries. Voluntary sterility is not a new thing in the history of the world. It has already been observed in a certain period of past civilizations. It is a classical symptom. We know its significance.[16]

Spengler wrote of this problem also as symptomatic of the senile “Winter” cycle of a Civilization where woman repudiates her womanliness in her desire to be “free.” There arises the phenomena of the “sterility of civilized man.”[17] “The continuance of the blood-relation in the visible world is no longer a duty of the blood and the destiny of being the last of the line is no longer felt as a doom.”[18] While the “primary woman, the peasant woman, is mother….,” in Late Civilization there emerges “emancipated woman,” and in this cycle which lasts for centuries, there is an “appalling depopulation,” and the whole cultural pyramid crumbles from the top down.[19]

Carrel’s premise, reminiscent of the passage previously quoted from Jung, is:

Modern civilization finds itself in a difficult position because it does not suit us. It has been erected without any knowledge of our real nature. It was born from the whims of scientific discoveries, from the appetites of men, their illusions, their theories, and their desires. Although constructed by our efforts, it is not adjusted to our size and shape.[20]

The mental cost for the workers caused by mass industrialization are addressed by Carrel in terms that are not found by the democratic and Marxist champions of the proletariat, yet Carrel well after his death, has been smeared as an inhumane “Nazi.”

In the organization of industrial life the influence of the factory upon the physiological and mental state of the workers has been completely neglected. Modern industry is based on the conception of the maximum production at lowest cost, in order that an individual or a group of individuals may earn as much money as possible. It has expanded without any idea of the true nature of the human beings who run the machines, and without giving any consideration to the effects produced on the individuals and on their descendants by the artificial mode of existence imposed by the factory. The great cities have been built with no regard for us. The shape and dimensions of the skyscrapers depend entirely on the necessity of obtaining the maximum income per square foot of ground, and of offering to the tenants offices and apartments that please them. This caused the construction of gigantic buildings where too large masses of human beings are crowded together. Civilized men like such a way of living. While they enjoy the comfort and banal luxury of their dwelling, they do not realize that they are deprived of the necessities of life. The modern city consists of monstrous edifices and of dark, narrow streets full of gasoline fumes, coal dust, and toxic gases, torn by the noise of the taxicabs, trucks, and trolleys, and thronged ceaselessly by great crowds. Obviously, it has not been planned for the good of its inhabitants.[21]

These are questions that have never been resolved, either by capitalist or by communist states. Despite our increased standards of living—albeit largely based on debt—the “banality of luxury” has been accepted as desirable as modern man has adapted to, rather than resisted, the pervasive era of mass production and consumption as the new universal religion. The aspects described by Carrel as he observed them in 1935, have multiplied by many times.

Notes

1. Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown (Sydney: Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1937); Preface, xi.

2. Konrad Lorenz, Civilized Man’s Eight Deadly Sins (1974), 26. The full text is online at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34473621/Konrad-Lorentz-Civiliz.... The basic question asked by ethologists in regard to the behavior patterns of a species is: “What for?” Lorenz asks what the answer is when such a question is applied to many behavior patterns of modern Civilization. (p. 4).

3. Jung wrote of this schizoid state: “Our souls as well as our bodies are composed of individual elements which were all already present in the ranks of our ancestors. The ‘newness’ of the individual psyche is an endlessly varied recombination of age-old components. Body and soul therefore have an intensely historical character and find no place in what is new. We are very far from having finished with the Middle Ages, classical antiquity and primitivity as our modern psyches pretend. Nevertheless we have plunged into a cataract of progress which sweeps us into the future with ever wilder violence the farther it takes us from our roots.” C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 263.

4. “Alexis Carrel,” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/redgold/innovators/bio_carrel.html

5. Alexis Carrel, Reflections on Life (Hawthorn Books 1952), “The author and his book,” http://chestofbooks.com/society/metaphysics/Reflections-O...

6. The full text of the 1939 Harper’s edition of Man the Unknown can be read online: http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0303critic/030310carre...

7. Man the Unknown, ch. 1: 1, “The Need for a better knowledge of man.”

8. Man the Unknown, ch. 1: 3.

9. E.g. New Zealand’s retiring Green Party Member of Parliament Sue Kedgley, was particularly noted for her campaigns on the chemical adulteration of food.

10. Man the Unknown, ch. 1: 3.

11. Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation (Middlesex: Allen Lane, Penguin, 2001).

12. Man the Unknown, Ch. 1: 4.

13. K. R. Bolton, Thinkers of the Right (Luton: Luton Publications, 2003).

14. Man the Unknown.

15. That “sex education” of the proportions advocated by the “experts” has for decades been practised by Sweden, which nonetheless tops all states in terms of abortion rates, seems to have been missed by the “experts.” The major myth of the “experts” in accounting for New Zealand’s high abortion rate is that most abortions are performed among poorly educated Polynesian/Maori teenagers. The median age for abortions in 2009 was 24. Over 50% were of European origin. Statistics New Zealand: Abortion Statistics Year Ended December 2009, http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/abortion...

16. Man the Unknown, ch. 1: 4.

17. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1926, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971), 103.

18. The Decline of the West, 104.

19. The Decline of the West, 105.

20. Man the Unknown, ch. 1: 4.

21.  Man the Unknown.

Alexis Carrel:
A Commemoration, Part 2

Our life is influenced in a large measure by commercial advertising. Such publicity is undertaken only in the interest of the advertisers and not of the consumers. For example, the public has been made to believe that white bread is better than brown. Then, flour has been bolted more and more thoroughly and thus deprived of its most useful components. Such treatment permits its preservation for longer periods and facilitates the making of bread. The millers and the bakers earn more money. The consumers eat an inferior product, believing it to be a superior one. And in the countries where bread is the principal food, the population degenerates. Enormous amounts of money are spent for publicity. As a result, large quantities of alimentary and pharmaceutical products, at the least useless, and often harmful, have become a necessity for civilized men. In this manner the greediness of individuals, sufficiently shrewd to create a popular demand for the goods that they have for sale, plays a leading part in the modern world.[1]

These problems of modern civilization were addressed during the Medieval era, under religious sanction, and under organization sanction via the Guilds, and yet our era is regarded as “progressive” and full of unlimited possibilities and that of the past as superstition-ridden and ignorant.

Man is for Carrel first a spiritual being, who has entered a degenerative state through artificial behavior patterns induced by industrialization.

The definition of good and evil is based both on reason and on the immemorial experience of humanity. It is related to basic necessities of individual and social life. However, it is somewhat arbitrary. But at each epoch and in each country it should be very clearly defined and identical for all classes of individuals. The good is equivalent to justice, charity, beauty. The evil, to selfishness, meanness, ugliness. In modern civilization, the theoretical rules of conduct are based upon the remains of Christian morals. No one obeys them. Modern man has rejected all discipline of his appetites. However, biological and industrial morals have no practical value, because they are artificial and take into consideration only one aspect of the human being. They ignore some of our most essential activities. They do not give to man an armor strong enough to protect him against his own inherent vices.

In order to keep his mental and organic balance, man must impose upon himself an inner rule. The state can thrust legality upon people by force. But not morality. Everyone should realize the necessity of selecting the right and avoiding the wrong, of submitting himself to such necessity by an effort of his own will. The Roman Catholic Church, in its deep understanding of human psychology, has given to moral activities a far higher place than to intellectual ones. The men, honored by her above all others, are neither the leaders of nations, the men of science, nor the philosophers. They are the saints–that is, those who are virtuous in a heroic manner. When we watch the inhabitants of the new city, we fully understand the practical necessity of moral sense. Intelligence, will power, and morality are very closely related. But moral sense is more important than intelligence. When it disappears from a nation the whole social structure slowly commences to crumble away. In biological research, we have not given so far to moral activities the importance that they deserve. Moral sense must be studied in as positive a manner as intelligence. Such a study is certainly difficult. But the many aspects of this sense in individuals and groups of individuals can easily be discerned. It is also possible to analyze the physiological, psychological, and social effects of morals. Of course, such researches cannot be undertaken in a laboratory. Field work is indispensable. There are still today many human communities which show the various characteristics of moral sense, and the results of its absence or of its presence in different degrees. Without any doubt, moral activities are located within the domain of scientific observation.[2]

Alexis_Carrel_02.jpgWhile Carrel has been deemed since 1944 to be a “fascist,” a “collaborator,” and a “Nazi,” his championing of the individual rather than the mass does not sit well with stereotypical images. Like others skeptical of democracy and equality, he opposed the leveling tendencies of the modern era, be they in the form of capitalism or Marxism, both of which had accepted the same formulation of man and society, Carrel in Reflections on Life calling the Liberal bourgeois the elder brother of the Bolshevist.

Modern society ignores the individual. It only takes account of human beings. It believes in the reality of the Universals and treats men as abstractions. The confusion of the concepts of individual and of human being has led industrial civilization to a fundamental error, the standardization of men. If we were all identical, we could be reared and made to live and work in great herds, like cattle. But each one has his own personality. He cannot be treated like a symbol.[3]

One symptom of mass society is that of mass education, and Carrel here focuses on the role of the family and especially the mother as the prime educator of the child before any institution. This championing of the family rather than the State is contrary to all collectivist schemes, which seek to eliminate the family as an obstacle to State totality.

Children should not be placed, at a very early age, in schools where they are educated wholesale. As is well known, most great men have been brought up in comparative solitude, or have refused to enter the mold of the school. Of course, schools are indispensable for technical studies. They also fill, in a certain measure, the child’s need of contact with other children. But education should be the object of unfailing guidance. Such guidance belongs to the parents. They alone, and more especially the mother, have observed, since their origin, the physiological and mental peculiarities whose orientation is the aim of education. Modern society has committed a serious mistake by entirely substituting the school for the familial training. The mothers abandon their children to the kindergarten in order to attend to their careers, their social ambitions, their sexual pleasures, their literary or artistic fancies, or simply to play bridge, go to the cinema, and waste their time in busy idleness. They are, thus, responsible for the disappearance of the familial group where the child was kept in contact with adults and learned a great deal from them.[4]

It is relevant to note here that the family was indeed the basis of the Vichy regime that sought a “National Revolution” based on the dictum “Work, Family, Homeland.” Among the family-orientated measures of the Vichy regime was the “Mother-at-home” allowance,[5] the type of legislation that is still being sought in the Western democracies. The “family allowance” increased with the birth of each child.[6] Maternity welfare provided for women to be taken by a hospital one month before and one month after the birth of a child,[7] a measure that would today in our liberal “welfare states” now seem utopian.

Likewise, Carrel lamented the phenomena of mass production and man as factory fodder, where there was once craft centered on a religious ethos rather than a strictly economic one.

The neglect of individuality by our social institutions is, likewise, responsible for the atrophy of the adults. Man does not stand, without damage, the mode of existence, and the uniform and stupid work imposed on factory and office workers, on all those who take part in mass production. In the immensity of modern cities he is isolated and as if lost. He is an economic abstraction, a unit of the herd. He gives up his individuality. He has neither responsibility nor dignity. Above the multitude stand out the rich men, the powerful politicians, the bandits. The others are only nameless grains of dust. On the contrary, the individual remains a man when he belongs to a small group, when he inhabits a village or a small town where his relative importance is greater, when he can hope to become, in his turn, an influential citizen. The contempt for individuality has brought about its factual disappearance.[8]

Again, Carrel seems to be alluding in his ideal for a return to the medieval ethos. And again, one finds here also that Carrel’s social critique is far from misanthropic, as has been more recently claimed by his post-mortem “anti-fascist” avengers. He is a physician trying to diagnose and treat the cancerous growth of the mass tyranny of the modern era.

Carrel’s conclusion is that man, who has transformed the material world through science, is also capable of transforming himself. But he will not transform himself without necessity, because he has become complacent amidst the artificial lifestyle of industrial civilization.

While surrounded by the comfort, the beauty, and the mechanical marvels engendered by technology, he does not understand how urgent is this operation. He fails to realize that he is degenerating. Why should he strive to modify his ways of being, living, and thinking?[9]

Carrel regarded the Great Depression as a fortuitous opportunity, because of the undermining of public confidence in the economic system, which might impel people to seek a redirection.

Has not modern life decreased the intelligence and the morality of the whole nation? Why must we pay several billions of dollars each year to fight criminals? Why do the gangsters continue victoriously to attack banks, kill policemen, kidnap, ransom, or assassinate children, in spite of the immense amount of money spent in opposing them? Why are there so many feeble-minded and insane among civilized people? Does not the world crisis depend on individual and social factors that are more important than the economic ones? It is to be hoped that the spectacle of civilization at this beginning of its decline will compel us to ascertain whether the causes of the catastrophe do not lie within ourselves, as well as in our institutions. And that we will fully realize the imperativeness of our renovation.

…The spontaneous crash of technological civilization may help to release the impulses required for the destruction of our present habits and the creation of new modes of life.[10]

What Carrel called for was the creation of a new ruling state of renaissance men who would be educated in all the arts and sciences, having renounced ordinary life to form a ruling class better capable of creating a new civilization in keeping with man’s true nature, than can politicians and plutocrats.

Indeed, the few gifted individuals who dedicate themselves to this work will have to renounce the common modes of existence. They will not be able to play golf and bridge, to go to cinemas, to listen to radios, to make speeches at banquets, to serve on committees, to attend meetings of scientific societies, political conventions, and academies, or to cross the ocean and take part in international congresses. They must live like the monks of the great contemplative orders, and not like university professors, and still less like business men. In the course of the history of all great nations, many have sacrificed themselves for the salvation of the community. Sacrifice seems to be a necessary condition of progress.[11]

Eugenics was also a significant aspect of Carrel’s beliefs, and the matter for which he is most smeared, although eugenic ideas among physiologists at that time were the norm, and what Carrel advocated was on par with the sterilization measures already undertaken by many states of the USA,[12] and was at that time even advocated by socialists, as was particularly the case in Sweden. Hence, Carrel stated:

Eugenics may exercise a great influence upon the destiny of the civilized races. Of course, the reproduction of human beings cannot be regulated as in animals. The propagation of the insane and the feeble-minded, nevertheless, must be prevented. A medical examination should perhaps be imposed on people about to marry, as for admission into the army or the navy, or for employees in hotels, hospitals, and department stores. However, the security given by medical examination is not at all positive. The contradictory statements made by experts before the courts of justice demonstrate that these examinations often lack any value. It seems that eugenics, to be useful, should be voluntary. By an appropriate education, each one could be made to realize what wretchedness is in store for those who marry into families contaminated by syphilis, cancer, tuberculosis, insanity, or feeble-mindedness. Such families should be considered by young people at least as undesirable as those which are poor. In truth, they are more dangerous than gangsters and murderers. No criminal causes so much misery in a human group as the tendency to insanity. Voluntary eugenics is not impossible. […]None should marry a human being suffering from hidden hereditary defects. Most of man’s misfortunes are due to his organic and mental constitution and, in a large measure, to his heredity. Obviously, those who are afflicted with a heavy ancestral burden of insanity, feeblemindedness, or cancer should not marry. No human being has the right to bring misery to another human being. Still less, that of procreating children destined to misery.[13]

It is clear that for all the slander against Carrel as a eugenicist, his position on the matter was moderate for the time, and was to be voluntary, based on a combination of education and financial rewards. However, also of great importance in Carrel’s system was education and culture.

Children must be reared in contact with things which are the expression of the mind of their parents. It is imperative to stop the transformation of the farmer, the artisan, the artist, the professor, and the man of science into manual or intellectual proletarians, possessing nothing but their hands or their brains. The development of this proletariat will be the everlasting shame of industrial civilization. It has contributed to the disappearance of the family as a social unit, and to the weakening of intelligence and moral sense. It is destroying the remains of culture. All forms of the proletariat must be suppressed. Each individual should have the security and the stability required for the foundation of a family.[14]

Elsewhere Carrel writes again of the undesirability of mass proletarianization and the need for a new economic system:

The artisan, on the contrary, has the legitimate hope that some day he may become the head of his shop. Likewise, the peasant owning his land, the fisherman owning his boat, although obliged to work hard, are, nevertheless, masters of themselves and of their time. Most industrial workers could enjoy similar independence and dignity. The white-collar people lose their personality just as factory hands do. In fact, they become proletarians. It seems that modern business organization and mass production are incompatible with the full development of the human self. If such is the case, then industrial civilization, and not civilized man, must go.[15]

In the same paragraph Carrel emphasis the basic social unit as being the family, predicated on sound and lasting marriage for the raising of healthy children, and the education of women geared to raising children.

Marriage must cease being only a temporary union. The union of man and woman, like that of the higher anthropoids, ought to last at least until the young have no further need of protection. The laws relating to education, and especially to that of girls, to marriage, and divorce should, above all, take into account the interest of children. Women should receive a higher education, not in order to become doctors, lawyers, or professors, but to rear their offspring to be valuable human beings.[16]

Feminism has resulted in what we might call the proletarianization of women, whether in menial or intellectual arenas, as increasing numbers especially over the past several decades have opted for jobs rather than children, even for the sake of their social life, or have been leaving child bearing to increasingly later ages until procreation becomes a problem. If Carrel were alive today, he would undoubtedly have much to say about the decline fertility rates among males also, perhaps looking at environmental and nutritional factors for explanations. At any rate the question of food quality is broached by Carrel several times in Man the Unknown, for example:

We now have to reestablish, in the fullness of his personality, the human being weakened and standardized by modem life. Sexes have again to be clearly defined. Each individual should be either male or female, and never manifest the sexual tendencies, mental characteristics, and ambitions of the opposite sex. Instead of resembling a machine produced in series, man should, on the contrary, emphasize his uniqueness. In order to reconstruct personality, we must break the frame of the school, factory, and office, and reject the very principles of technological civilization.

The effect of the chemical compounds contained in food upon physiological and mental activities is far from being thoroughly known. Medical opinion on this point is of little value, for no experiments of sufficient duration have been made upon human beings to ascertain the influence of a given diet. There is no doubt that consciousness is affected by the quantity and the quality of the food.[17]

Carrel, as a social-physician in the closing paragraphs of his seminal work again shows that what he was advocating was of a humane character; that he was not a social-Darwinist with a disregard for the weaker elements of society:

The brutal materialism of our civilization not only opposes the soaring of intelligence, but also crushes the affective, the gentle, the weak, the lonely, those who love beauty, who look for other things than money, whose sensibility does not stand the struggle of modern life. In past centuries, the many who were too refined, or too incomplete, to fight with the rest were allowed the free development of their personality. Some lived within themselves. Others took refuge in monasteries, in charitable or contemplative orders, where they found poverty and hard work, but also dignity, beauty, and peace. Individuals of this type should be given, instead of the inimical conditions of modern society, an environment more appropriate to the growth and utilization of their specific qualities.[18]

Notes

1. Man the Unknown.

2. Man the Unknown, ch. 4: 3.

3. Man the Unknown, ch. 7: 10.

4. Man the Unknown, ch. 7: 10.

5. Decree of October 11, 1940.

6. Laws of November 18, 1940; February 15, 1941.

7. Law no. 3763, September 2, 1941.

8. Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown, ch. 7: 10.

9. Man the Unknown, ch. 7: 10., ch. 8: 1.

10. Man the Unknown, ch. 7: 10.

11. Man the Unknown,  ch. 8:3.

12. Indiana became the first US state to enact a sterilization law in 1907, directed towards the “feebleminded.” In 1927 the US Supreme Court ruled 8 to  that sterilization laws for the mentally handicapped were not unconstitutional, Justice Holmes writing of the decision: “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” As late as 1970 the Nixon Administration increased Medicaid funding for the voluntary sterilization of low-income Americans. The last forcible sterilization occurred in the USA in 1981, in Oregon, under the direction of the Oregon Board of Eugenics. Social democratic Sweden was particularly active with a eugenic sterilization program from 1934, the laws not being repealed until 1976. Around 31,000 had been sterilized, by far the majority forcibly.

13. Man the Unknown, ch. 8:7.

14. Man the Unknown, ch. 8:7.

15. Man the Unknown, ch. 8:12.

16. Reflections on Life, ch. 8: 12.

17. Reflections on Life, ch. 8: 12.

18. Reflections on Life, ch. 8: 12.

Alexis Carrel:
A Commemoration, Part 3

Three of Carrel’s books were published posthumously, Reflections on Life[1] being particularly instructive in further explicating Carrel’s views on civilization. Here Carrel states that the great problem of the day is for man to increase not only his intelligence, but also a robustness of character and morality, and to maintain a spiritual outlook, these qualities having atrophied and failed to keep pace with technical evolution.[2] Based on his experiments and observations Carrel states that the organism is greatly malleable and changed by circumstances of environment. This two-way interaction between environment and genes seems often to be overlooked in a dichotomy existing between genetic determinists and environmental determinists. Therefore, what Carrel presents is a synthesis, writing:

The formation of body and mind depends on the chemical, physical and psychological conditions of the environment and on physiological habits. The effects of these conditions and these habits on the whole make-up of the individual ought to be exactly studied with reference to all activities of body and mind.[3]

Throughout his life he also emphasized the importance of the spiritual and the religious, and he remained a Christian.

AcaHomInco.gifCarrel proceeds with the first chapter to trace the dissolution of traditional communal bonds with the ancestral traditions being undermined from the time of the Renaissance, through to the Reformation, and the revolutions of France and America, enthroning of rationalism and heralding the rise of liberalism and Marxism:

The democratic nations fail to recognize the value of scientific concepts in the organization of communal life. They put their trust in ideologies, those twin daughters of the rationalism of the Age of Enlightenment. Yet neither Liberalism nor Marxism bases itself on an exhaustive observation of reality. The fathers of Liberalism, Voltaire and Adam Smith, had just as arbitrary and incomplete a view of the human world as Ptolemy had of the stellar system. The same applies to those who signed the Declaration of Independence, to the authors of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as also to Karl Marx and Engels.[4]

At the root of these ideologies of capitalism and socialism alike is economic reductionism, which has given rise to the artificiality of a civilization that Carrel condemned for fostering a weakened state of humanity, physiologically, morally, spiritually, and mentally:

The principles of the Communist Manifesto are, in fact, like those of the French Revolution, philosophical views and not scientific concepts. The Liberal bourgeois and the Communist worker share the same belief in the primacy of economics. This belief is inherited from the philosophers of the eighteenth century. It takes no account of the scientific knowledge of the mental and physiological activities of man we possess today nor of the environment which these activities need for their ideal development. Such knowledge shows that primacy belongs not to economics, but to man’s own humanity. Instead of trying to find how to organize the State as a function of the human, we are content to declaim the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the French Revolution. According to these principles, the State is, above all, the guardian of property; the head servant of banking, industry and commerce.[5]

This liberty has brought nothing real to the multitude of proletarianized masses.

The liberty enjoyed by the majority of men does not belong to the economic, intellectual or moral order. The dispossessed have merely the liberty to go from one slum or one public house to another. They are free to read the lies of one paper rather than another, to listen to opposing forms of radio propaganda and, finally, to vote. Politically they are free; economically they are slaves. Democratic liberty exists only for those who possess something. It allows them to increase their wealth and to enjoy all the various goods of this world. It is only fair to admit that, thanks to it, Capitalism has achieved a vast expansion of wealth and a general improvement in health and in the material conditions of life. But it has, at the same time, created the proletariat. Thus it has deprived men of the land, encouraged their herding together in factories and appalling dwellings, endangered their physical and mental health and divided nations into mutually hostile social classes. The Encylopedists had a profound respect for the owners of property and despised the poor. The French Revolution was directed against both the aristocracy and the proletariat It was content to substitute the rat for the Hon; the bourgeois for the noble. Now Marxism aims at replacing the bourgeois by the worker. The successor of Capitalism is Bureaucracy. Like Liberalism, Marxism arbitrarily gives first place to economics. It allows a theoretical liberty only to the proletariat and suppresses all other classes. The real world is far more complex than the abstraction envisaged by Marx and Engels.[6]

Here, as in many other places of Carrel’s writing, we see this his concern is for humanity, for the poor and oppressed that have been reduced to a mass and meaningless existence in the name of “economic liberty,” and it soon becomes apparent that the Marxists and liberals who smeared Carrel as some type of fiendish Nazi doctor with a depraved outlook on humanity, are either lying or ignorant. If Carrel spoke “against” the proletariat it was in defense of the “worker” as artisan, craftsmen, tiller, and in opposition to a process that continues to deprive man of his humanity:

Human labor is not something which can be bought like any other commodity. It is an error to depersonalize the thinking and feeling being who operates the machine and to reduce him, in industrial enterprise, to mere “manpower.” Homo oeconomicus is a fantasy of our imagination and has no existence in the concrete world.[7]

Carrel’s adherence to the Christian faith as the basis of civilized values is a refreshing surprise from the usual atheism and materialism of scientific social commentators. Carrel maintains that Christianity provides the foundations for social bonds above all other beliefs, whether rationalistic or metaphysical.

In an unknown village of Palestine, on the shores of Lake Tiberias, a young carpenter announced some astonishing news to a few ignorant fishermen. We are loved by an immaterial and all-powerful Being. This Being is accessible to our prayers. We must love Him above all creatures. And we ourselves must also love one another.

A new era had begun. The only cement strong enough to bind men together had been found. Nevertheless, humanity chose to ignore the importance of this new principle in the organization of its collective life. It is far from having understood that only mutual love could save it from division, ruin and chaos. Nor has it realized that no scientific discovery was so fraught with significance as the revelation of the law of love by Jesus the Crucified. For this law is, in fact, that of the survival of human societies.[8]

It was this Christian faith that molded the heroic ethos and chivalry of the West, Christianity providing the feeling of “the beauty of charity and renunciation” above the “savage and lustful appetites.” Man, or better said the Westerner,

was drawn to the heroism which, in the hell of modern warfare, consists in giving one’s life for one’s friends; and in having pity on the vanquished, the sick, the weak and the abandoned. This need for sacrifice and brotherhood became more defined in the course of centuries. Then appeared St. Louis of France, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Vincent de Paul and a numberless legion of apostles of charity.[9]

It is this ethos of individual sacrifice and renunciation which Carrel states has been increasingly obliterated by the ideologies of the modern era, and which is required again to overcome the problems of the present, particularly in developing a ruling caste that he wished to see emerge and live for the service of humanity.

Even in our own base and egotistical age, thousands of men and women still follow, on the battlefield, in the monastery or in that abomination of desolation the modern city, the path of heroism, abnegation and holiness.[10]

“Our civilization,” by which Carrel must mean Western Civilization, “has, in truth, forgotten that it is born of the blood of Christ; it has also forgotten God,” but there remains a basic discernment of the beauty of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount.[11] As a scientist Carrel sees Christian morality not as some contrivance to maintain a ruling class, but as reflecting fundamental laws of life that are in accord with nature, and in keeping with the survival imperative. On the other hand just as mistaken are those moralists who see Christianity as negating the need for humanity to act in accordance with the discoveries of nature being revealed by science. [12] Here again, Carrel is proposing a synthesis, rather than a dichotomy. Therefore the Christian commandment against killing is applicable in a broad sense, there being many ways of killing, and the destroyers or killers of humanity include,

The profiteer who sends up the price of necessities, the financier who cheats poor people of their savings, the industrialist who does not protect his workmen against poisonous substances, the woman who has an abortion and the doctor who performs it are all murderers. Murderers, too, are the makers of harmful liquor and the wine growers who conspire with politicians to increase the consumption of drink; the sellers of dangerous drugs; the man who encourages his friend to drink; the employer who forces his workers to work and live in conditions disastrous to their bodies and minds.[13]

Carrel was not preaching any doctrine of pandering to the weak, any more than a misanthropic crushing, but rather one of the strengthening of humanity by disposing of the artificiality that has become the basis of civilization, and has halted human ascent. In this respect there is a certain coincidental resemblance to the Nietzschean over-man, when not misinterpreted or misconstrued as something monstrous. Hence man must again become re-acclimatized to harsh environmental conditions, as a matter of will and self-discipline.

The rules to follow are many, but simple. They consist in leading our daily life as the structure of our body and mind demands. We must learn to endure heat, cold and fatigue; to walk, run and climb in all extremes of weather. We must also avoid as much as possible the artificial atmosphere of offices, flats and motorcars. In the choice of the quantity of food we eat we ought to follow modern principles of nutrition. We should sleep neither too much nor too little and in a quiet atmosphere. . . . We should also accomplish daily, outside of our professional work, some definite task of an intellectual, aesthetic, moral or religious nature. Those who have the courage to order their existence thus will be magnificently rewarded. . . .[14]

As in Man the Unknown, Carrel was concerned with the affects of declining birth rates, as a symptom of decline, which he states has social and economic causes and which can consequently be reversed by the State proving generously for the rearing of healthy children. Education is also required to make eugenically sound and conscious decisions when mating, an issue which is perhaps more than any others raised by Carrel,[15] anathema to liberal sensibilities.

Healthy children and family life proceeds for Carrel on the basis of a reconnection with the soil.

The family must be rooted once more in the soil. Everyone should be able to have a house, however small, and make himself a garden. Everyone who already has a farm should beautify it. He should adorn it with flowers, pave the road which leads to it, destroy the briars which choke the hedges, break up the boulders which hinder the passage of the plow, and plant trees whose branches will shade his great-grandchildren. Finally, the works of art, the old houses, the splendid buildings and cathedrals in which the soul of our forefathers expressed itself must be piously preserved. We should also set ourselves against the profanation of the rivers, the tranquil hills and the forests which were the cradle of our ancestors. But our most sacred duty is to bring about a revolution in teaching which will make the school, instead of a dreary factory for certificates and diplomas, a center of moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious education.[16]

The return to the soil was a major aim of the Vichy regime. Uncultivated land could be granted with the aid of state allowances, and freedom from rent for the first three years, and thereafter a rental half that of similar land in the area.[17] State subsidies of up to 50% were available for new farm buildings.[18] Farm laborers, who had been increasingly leaving the land for the cities for better pay, were encouraged to take up farming themselves. State gratuities were given to all farmers who provided rural apprenticeship training, and agricultural education was reorganized, and centers established.[19]

As one should expect for a physiologist attempting to apply his observations of the natural world to the formation of a more natural human social order, the type of society Carrel advocated was what has been called the “organic state,” where each individual is in general part of at least one social organ, from the family outward, each individual and each social organ contributing by their innate character to the well-being of the entire social organism. The organic state is thus analogous to the living human organism where, where the brain – the government – co-ordinates the individual organs for the healthy functioning of the whole organism. This is contrary to the modern era where everyone is divided in to atomized individuals, or competing classes, and a myriad of other self-serving interests, to the detriment of the whole. Carrel repudiated that notion of society being held together by a “social contract” between individuals, as per the idea that has come down to us from liberalism, as the very act of being born makes an individual an automatic part of society. The coming together for common interests into social organs is a natural process.

Every individual is a member of several organismic and organic groups. He belongs to tie family, the village, and the parish and also, perhaps, to a school, a trade union, a professional society or a sports club. Thus a relatively small number of completely developed individuals can have a great influence on many community groups.[20]

Hence, an industrial enterprise, should according to such organic laws function as a social organism rather than as a disharmonic or diseased organism of contending interests, which one might compare to a cancer-afflicted body. What Carrel alludes to in his analogy of the industrial enterprise where solidarity replaces class warfare, is that the worker of an enterprise share in the profits of that enterprise; “when he cooperates in an enterprise which belongs to him and to which he belongs.”[21]

In his concluding chapter Carrel states: “Communities and industrial enterprises should be conceived as organisms whose function is to build up centers of human brotherhood where all are equal in the sense in which the Church understands men’s equality; that is to say, in the sense that all are children of God.”[22]

The suppression of the Proletariat and the liberation of the oppressed should not come about through class warfare but through the abolition of social classes.

What is needed is to suppress the Proletariat by replacing it with industrial enterprise of an organismic character. If the community has an organismic character, it matters little whether the state or private individuals own the means of production, but individual ownership of house and land is indispensable.[23]

One can discern in this organic conception of society the influence of the social doctrine of the Church combined with the observations of the biologist. It is no wonder that Carrel agreed to work with the Vichy Government in attempting to solve social problems, as the Vichy was one of numerous regimes, often inspired by Catholic social doctrine, which attempted to implement the organic or “corporate state.”[24]

What ideology then did Carrel adhere to? Apparently, none that had been operative.

Despite the smear that Carrel was a “Nazi,” he regarded National Socialism, Marxism, and liberalism as all having failed, as had the civilizations of the Classical and Medieval eras.[25] Neither is an entire answer to be found in a religious, scientific or a political system alone. There must be a holistic approach.

The break-up of Western civilization is due to the failure of ideologies, to the insufficiency both of religion and science. If life is to triumph, we need a revolution. We must reexamine every question and make an act of faith in the power of the human spirit. Our destiny demands this great effort; we ought to devote all our time to the effort of living since this is the whole purpose of our being on earth.

All men who are determined to make a success of living in the widest sense should join together as they have done in all times. Pythagoras made the first attempt, but it is the Catholic Church which has hitherto offered the most complete of such associations. We must give up the illusion that we can live according to instinct, like the bees. True, the success of life demands, above all, an effort of intelligence and will. Since intelligence has not replaced instinct we must try to render it capable of directing life.[26]

Carrel reconciles religious faith and metaphysics with science and natural law. Hence the Christian foundations of Carrel’s organic society are reiterated. He states that the reasons the “white races” have failed despite “their Christianity” is because the Christian ethos has not been sufficiently applied in practical terms to the questions presented by science. Carrel ends optimistically however in stating that unlike prior civilizations, this Civilization has the means of diagnosing its ills and therefore has the opportunity of halting the cycle of decay.

For the first time in the history of the world, a civilization which has arrived at the verge of its decline is able to diagnose its ills. Perhaps it will be able to use this knowledge and, thanks to the marvelous forces of science, to avoid the common fate of all the great peoples of the past. We ought to launch ourselves on this new path from this very moment. . . .

Before those who perfectly perform their task as men, the road of truth lies always open. On this royal road, the poor as well as the rich, the weak as well as the strong, believer and unbeliever alike are invited to advance. If they accept this invitation, they are sure of accomplishing their destiny, of participating in the sublime work of evolution, of hastening the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. And, over and above, they will attain all the happiness compatible with our human condition.[27]

Post-Mortem Vilification

Carrel was spared the indignities of the democratic post-war era, and although he was cleared of being a “collaborationist” his doctrine of human ascent with its intrinsic opposition to liberalism, Marxism, capitalism, and rationalism, has made him the subject of smears in more recent years. The renewed “interest” was prompted in 1997 when Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen suggested that Carrel was the founder of ecology, which resulted in a mean-spirited campaign to get streets named after Carrel changed.[28] In 1998 a Left-wing petition was circulated to get the name of rue Alexis-Carrel in Paris changed, with the media quipping about Carrel’s supposed advocacy of brutal “Nazi-style” eugenics measures, and his so-called “dubious role” in wartime France. Hence Ben MacIntyre, journalist, for some reason felt himself qualified to remark that Carrel’s best-seller, Man the Unknown, was “pseudo-science,” one of Carrel’s most callous recommendations apparently having been to advocate the humane execution of the criminally insane.[29]

While it is something of a cliché when writing a tribute to a perhaps long forgotten individual of seemingly prophetic vision, to state that the subject had a message more relevant now than in his own time, this surely is in a myriad of ways a claim that can legitimately be made for Alexis Carrel. The many symptoms of decay he noted in his own time, from the artificiality of industrial life to the chemical adulteration of food, the standardization of life, and the rising rates of abortion are now with Western Civilization in a phase that is acute. [30]

Notes

1. Alexis Carrel, Reflections on Life. The book in its entirety has been published online: http://chestofbooks.com/society/metaphysics/Reflections-O...

2. Reflections on Life, “Preface.”

3. Reflections on Life.

4. Reflections on Life, ch. 1.

5. Reflections on Life, ch. 1.

6. Reflections on Life, ch. 1.

7. Reflections on Life, ch. 1.

8. Reflections on Life, ch. 3:6.

9. Reflections on Life, ch. 3:6.

10. Reflections on Life, ch. 3:6.

11. Reflections on Life, ch. 3:6.

12. Reflections on Life, ch. 4:3.

13. Reflections on Life, ch. 5: 2.

14. Reflections on Life, ch. 5: 3.

15. Reflections on Life, ch. 5: 8.

16. Reflections on Life, ch. 5: 4.

17. Law of August 27, 1940.

18. Law of April 17, 1941.

19. Laws of July 8, 1941, and August 25, 1941.

20. Reflections on Life, ch. 6: 10.

21. Reflections on Life, ch. 6: 10.

22. Reflections on Life, ch. 9: 3.

23. Reflections on Life, ch. 9: 3.

24. Other corporate states directly inspired by Catholic social doctrine included Salazar’s Portugal, Franquist Spain and the Austria of Dollfuss.

25. Reflections on Life, ch. 9: 2.

26. Reflections on Life, ch. 9: 2.

27. Reflections on Life, ch. 9: 3.

28. David Zen Mairowitz, “Fascism a la Monde,” Harper’s, October 1997.

29. Ben MacIntyre, “Paris Left wants eugenics advocate taken off street,” The Times, January 6, 1998.

jeudi, 16 septembre 2010

Konrad Lorenz, uno scienziato antimoderno

konrad_Lorenz.jpg

Konrad Lorenz, uno scienziato antimoderno

di Stefano Di Ludovico

Fonte: Centro Studi Opifice [scheda fonte]

I pregiudizi scientisti e progressisti di cui è impregnata la nostra cultura ci portano spesso a vedere in ogni visione alternativa rispetto al mondo moderno il portato di mentalità antiscientifiche ed arcaiche, sogno di visionari metafisici che ignorano i fondamenti e le regole più elementari del sapere positivo. Sembra quasi che la critica al mondo moderno sia prerogativa di culture inevitabilmente “altre” rispetto a quel sapere che di tale mondo si reputa a fondamento, e che la scienza sia necessariamente al servizio della modernità e della società a cui essa ha dato origine. La figura e l’opera di Konrad Lorenz smentiscono clamorosamente tali pregiudizi: universalmente considerato uno dei maggiori “scienziati” del XX secolo, padre dell’etologia moderna e Nobel per la fisiologia e la medicina nel 1973, è stato al tempo stesso uno dei più lucidi e feroci critici della modernità e dei suoi miti, anticipatore di molte di quelle tematiche oggi fatte proprie dai movimenti e dalle culture ambientaliste e no-global.
A rileggere la sua opera, sviluppatasi lungo l’arco di un quarantennio, dal dopoguerra agli anni Ottanta del secolo appena trascorso, ci ritroviamo al cospetto di un vero e proprio “profeta” dei mali che affliggono il nostro mondo e dei problemi che la nostra generazione è chiamata ad affrontare. E tutto ciò da una prospettiva che pur rimanendo fedele ai fondamenti positivisti ed evoluzionisti della sua visione di fondo, ha saputo essere al tempo stesso radicalmente anticonformista ed “inattuale” rispetto ai valori ed alle tesi di cui quella visione si è fatta spesso portatrice. Ci sembra essere proprio questa, alla fine, la cifra del pensiero di Konrad Lorenz, uno scienziato “antimoderno”. A diciotto anni dalla sua morte - avvenuta nel 1989 - proprio oggi che molte delle sue analisi si sono rivelate profetiche e che l’eco delle polemiche, anche accese, che hanno accompagnato la sua vicenda culturale ed umana si va ormai spegnendo, è possibile, e al tempo stesso doveroso, guardare alla sua opera con maggiore interesse, curiosità ed obiettività, attribuendole la valenza e la riconoscenza che meritano.

Konrad Lorenz nasce a Vienna nel 1903. Studia medicina a New York e a Vienna, laureandosi nel 1928. Nel 1933 consegue anche la laurea in zoologia, assecondando i suoi veri interessi che si stavano orientando sempre più verso il mondo animale e l’ornitologia in particolare. Nel 1937 diventa docente di psicologia animale e anatomia comparata presso l’Università di Vienna e, a partire dal 1940, di psicologia all’Università di Königsberg. Scoppiata la guerra, combatte nell’esercito tedesco. Durante il conflitto viene fatto prigioniero dai russi; così dal 1944 al 1948 è trattenuto in un campo di detenzione sovietico fino alla fine delle ostilità. Nel 1949 viene pubblicato L’anello di Re Salomone, destinato a rimanere la sua opera più celebre, dove Lorenz rivela quelle doti di abile ed affascinante divulgatore che resero i suoi testi famosi nel mondo, avvicinando alle tematiche etologiche e naturalistiche un vasto pubblico di non addetti ai lavori; doti confermate nel successivo E l’uomo incontrò il cane, del 1950. Nel 1961 diviene Direttore dell’Istituto Max Plank per la fisiologia del comportamento di Starnberg, in Baviera, carica che manterrà fino al 1973. E’ proprio a partire da tali anni che, accanto a testi a contenuto prettamente scientifico, Lorenz inizia ad estendere i suoi interessi alla sfera sociale e culturale, per arrivare ad affrontare le tematiche dell’attualità del suo tempo, lette all’interno di un’ottica che faceva tesoro di quanto via via egli stava maturando e scoprendo in ambito naturalistico. Dall’etologia animale si passa così all’etologia umana. Tali nuovi interessi iniziano per la verità a fare capolino già nelle opere a carattere scientifico, rivelando la vastità degli orizzonti e delle prospettive che fin dagli inizi hanno accompagnato la sua ricerca.

L’opera Il cosiddetto male, del 1963, che affronta il tema dell’aggressività intraspecifica, è un tipico esempio di tale prospettiva. In questo scritto Lorenz sostiene che l’aggressività, al pari di diversi altri istinti quali la sessualità o la territorialità, sia un comportamento innato, come tale insopprimibile e spontaneo, impossibile da far derivare dai soli stimoli ambientali. Essendo un istinto innato, l’aggressività è in quanto tale “al di là del bene e del male” (di qui anche il carattere ironico e polemico del titolo del libro; modificato, in alcune delle edizioni successive, nel più neutro L’aggressività), componente strutturale di ogni essere vivente e svolgente un ruolo fondamentale nell’ambito dei processi evolutivi e quindi della sopravvivenza della specie. Basti pensare al ruolo che la conflittualità intraspecifica gioca nell’ambito della delimitazione del territorio, della scelta del partner nella riproduzione, dell’instaurazione delle gerarchie all’interno del gruppo. Lorenz sostiene altresì che gli stessi istinti “buoni”, ovvero quelli gregari e amorosi, derivino evoluzionisticamente dalla stessa aggressività, essendo modificazioni selettive di questa indirizzati a finalità differenti, tanto che sopprimere l’aggressività significherebbe sopprimere la vita stessa. Il libro suscitò polemiche violentissime, dato che Lorenz non limitò le sue riflessioni all’ambito animale, ma le estese anche a quello umano e storico-sociale. Le accuse si sprecarono e la polemica, dal terreno scientifico su cui Lorenz intendeva mantenerla, scivolò, com’era prevedibile, su quello politico ed ideologico: gli diedero del razzista e del guerrafondaio. In realtà il proposito del testo era quello di criticare le correnti comportamentiste e behavioriste, allora molto in voga, secondo cui tutti i comportamenti derivano in ultima analisi dalle influenze e dagli stimoli ambientali, modificati i quali sarebbe possibile modificare gli stessi comportamenti, aggressività inclusa. Per i comportamentisti, quindi, non vi sarebbe nulla di innato. Lorenz, al contrario, considera l’istinto un dato originario, geneticamente condizionato: in quanto tale, esso vive di vita autonoma, non vincolandosi necessariamente all’azione di quelle influenze ambientali aventi la funzione di stimoli scatenanti. Anzi, secondo Lorenz più un istinto non trova occasione di scatenamento, più aumenta la possibilità che esso si scarichi prima o poi in maniera ancor più dirompente, anche in assenza degli stimoli corrispondenti. Se così non fosse, per Lorenz sarebbero difficilmente spiegabili i fenomeni di aggressività cosiddetta “gratuita”, così diffusi sia nel mondo animale che tra gli uomini. Lungi dal costituire un’apologia della violenza e della guerra, l’opera di Lorenz intendeva innanzi tutto mettere in guardia da ogni posizione utopica circa la convivenza umana e la risoluzione dei conflitti, risoluzione che, per essere realistica e antropologicamente fondata, non poteva prescindere da dati e analisi che egli riteneva incontrovertibili. Al contrario, proprio la mancata conoscenza del funzionamento dei comportamenti innati poteva portare a risultati opposti a quelli auspicati, finendo per favorire proprio l’innesco di comportamenti deleteri per la pacifica convivenza. Sostenendo l’impermeabilità di fondo ai condizionamenti ambientali degli istinti basilari dell’uomo come di tutte le specie animali, Lorenz vuole evidenziare così le illusioni insite nella convinzione secondo cui l’educazione e la trasformazione dell’assetto politico-sociale sarebbero di per sé sufficienti a modificare e plasmare i comportamenti umani. E questo non perché egli negasse ogni valore alla cultura o alla dimensione spirituale dell’uomo, quasi a volerlo ridurre a un animale tra i tanti e per ciò vincolato esclusivamente ai suoi istinti. Alieno da ogni visione irenistica e bucolica dell’uomo così come della natura in genere, critico di ogni antropologia che risentisse del mito rousseauiano del “buon selvaggio”, egli sottolineò piuttosto come la “pseudospeciazione culturale” tipica della specie umana ha portato i gruppi umani – siano essi i clan, le tribù, le etnie o le moderne nazioni - una volta raggiunto un determinato grado di differenziazione reciproca, a relazionarsi in modo molto simile a quello delle specie animali più evolute, specie tra le quali, come accennato sopra, la conflittualità intraspecifica gioca un ruolo fondamentale all’interno dei processi adattativi. Lorenz evidenzia come diversi comportamenti risalenti a fattori culturali rivelino una fenomenologia sorprendentemente simile a quelli di origine genetica, facendo risaltare così una certa convergenza tra le dinamiche animali e quelle umane, convergenza che in fenomeni come non solo l’aggressività, ma anche ad esempio la territorialità, l’imprinting, il gioco ed i riti risalta con chiarezza.

E’ soprattutto però con opere quali Gli otto peccati capitali della nostra civiltà, del 1973 e Il declino dell’uomo, del 1983, che le problematiche del proprio tempo e la critica alle convinzioni ed alle ideologie dominanti diventano i temi centrali della sua ricerca; temi che, comunque, continuano a trovare ampio spazio anche nelle opere a contenuto scientifico di questo periodo. Tra queste ricordiamo L’altra faccia dello specchio, del 1973, dedicata alla disamina dei processi conoscitivi della specie umana da un punto di vista storico-evoluzionistico, Natura e destino, del 1978, dove viene ripreso il confronto tra innatismo e ambientalismo, e Lorenz allo specchio, scritto autobiografico del 1975. Nel 1973, intanto, tra le ennesime e strumentali polemiche scatenate in particolare dagli ambienti culturali di sinistra, viene insignito, come accennato, del Premio Nobel per la fisiologia e la medicina, unitamente ad altri due etologi, Nikolaas Tinbergen e Karl Ritter von Frisch. Pur di infangare la sua figura, non bastando le meschine accuse già rivoltegli in occasione de Il cosiddetto male, per l’occasione vennero tirati in ballo presunti atteggiamenti di condiscendenza verso il regime nazista, strumentalizzando ad arte tesi espresse a suo tempo in merito all’eugenetica. In realtà, ciò che non gli veniva perdonato erano le posizioni controcorrente verso i miti progressisti-rivoluzionari così prepotentemente in voga nel clima caldo degli anni settanta, così come il temperamento libero e non curante verso il “politicamente corretto”, che lo portavano a confrontarsi senza pregiudizi con gli ambienti intellettuali più disparati, come dimostra l’attenzione mostrata verso il GRECE, il “Gruppo di ricerca e studio per la civilizzazione europea”, fondato in Francia da Alain De Benoist, dalla cui collaborazione nacque anche un libro-intervista pubblicato nel 1979 con il titolo Intervista sull’etologia. Sempre nel 1973 si stabilì ad Altenberg, in Austria, assumendo la direzione del Dipartimento di sociologia animale dell’Accademia Austriaca delle Scienze. Tra le altre più significative opere ricordiamo L’etologia (1978), vasta sintesi del suo pensiero etologico, e i due libri-intervista Salvate la speranza (1988) e Il futuro è aperto (postumo del 1996, in collaborazione con il filosofo Karl Popper), in cui torna ad affrontare anche tematiche più specificatamente filosofico-sociali.

Gli otto peccati capitali della nostra civiltà, destinata a diventare una delle sue opere più note, vuole essere un’analisi delle cause della decadenza della civiltà e dei pericoli che incombono sull’umanità. Come il successivo Il declino dell’uomo, è un’opera intrisa di un cupo pessimismo, a volte radicale, pessimismo che in seguito lo stesso Lorenz avrebbe ritenuto esagerato. Gli otto “peccati capitali” della civiltà sarebbero a suo dire i seguenti: l’abnorme aumento della popolazione mondiale; la devastazione dell’ambiente; la smisurata competizione economica tra gli individui; l’affievolirsi dei sentimenti; il deterioramento del patrimonio genetico; l’oblio della tradizione; l’omologazione culturale; la proliferazione nucleare. Come vediamo, si tratta di “peccati” ancor oggi all’ordine del giorno e con i quali l’attuale umanità continua a fare i conti, ma che al tempo di Lorenz ancora non venivano individuati e denunciati come tali in tutta la loro gravità. Addirittura tali “peccati” rischiano per Lorenz di portare l’umanità verso l’estinzione. Questa visione apocalittica gli è suggerita, secondo un’ottica seguita un po’ in tutte le sue opere, dal parallelo che egli istituisce con il mondo dell’evoluzione animale e naturale in genere. Più che eventi causati da specifici accadimenti storico-sociali, essi vengono letti infatti quali veri e propri fenomeni degenerativi dell’evoluzione umana: come avviene per molte specie viventi che, ad un certo punto della propria storia evolutiva, imboccano un vicolo cieco avviandosi verso l’estinzione, lo stesso sembra stia accadendo per la specie umana. “Quale scopo – si chiede Lorenz – possono avere per l’umanità il suo smisurato moltiplicarsi, l’ansia competitiva che rasenta la follia, la corsa agli armamenti sempre più micidiali, il progressivo rammollimento dell’uomo inurbato? A un esame più attento, quasi tutti questi fatti negativi si rivelano però essere disfunzioni di meccanismi comportamentali ben determinati che in origine esercitavano probabilmente un’azione utile ai fini della conservazione della specie. In altre parole, essi vanno considerati alla stregua di elementi patologici”. Al di là delle legittime perplessità e delle riserve che una simile chiave di lettura – vincolata ad un’impostazione in ultima analisi biologista ed naturalista dei processi storico-sociali – può suscitare, l’opera di Lorenz rappresenta una delle più lungimiranti e pionieristiche denuncie della società moderna, di cui vengono con vigore demistificati i miti ed i valori fondanti. Fenomeni che secondo la tradizione del pensiero moderno venivano considerati quali espressione della più intima natura umana – la competizione economica, la ricerca del benessere materiale, l’indefinito progresso tecnologico – vengono denunciati, al contrario, quali vere e proprie “patologie”, che stanno allontanando sempre più l’uomo dalla sua vera essenza, riducendolo a mero strumento delle forze tecno-economiche da egli stesso messe in moto. “La competizione tra gli uomini – afferma – che promuove, a nostra rovina, un sempre più rapido sviluppo della tecnologia, rende l’uomo cieco di fronte a tutti i valori reali e lo priva del tempo necessario per darsi a quella attività veramente umana che è la riflessione”. Estraniatosi dal mondo e dai ritmi della natura, l’uomo vive ormai in una nuova dimensione puramente artificiale, dove sono le leggi ed i ritmi della tecnica a regolare la sua vita. Ciò ha condotto a stravolgere l’identità e la specificità stesse dell’uomo, con il progressivo inaridimento dei sentimenti e delle emozioni, l’estinzione del senso estetico, la distruzione delle tradizioni e delle istituzioni che avevano da sempre regolato la convivenza umana prima dell’avvento della società industriale. Lorenz arriva a sostenere che la situazione dell’umanità contemporanea può essere paragonata a quella delle specie animali allevate ed selezionate a scopi produttivi, presso le quali l’addomesticamento ha determinato una vera e propria alterazione dei loro caratteri naturali.

In tal senso, Lorenz pone le basi per un ambientalismo che, non limitandosi a denunciare la perturbazione degli ecosistemi o la devastazione dell’habitat naturale dell’uomo, mette l’accento sulla necessità di recuperare un’esistenza più conforme ai dettami ed ai limiti della natura; natura accettata e fatta propria anche nella sua dimensione tragica e dolorosa. Il progetto della modernità di voler bandire il dolore e la fatica dal mondo è visto infatti da Lorenz come una vera e propria iattura: “il progresso tecnologico e farmacologico favorisce una crescente intolleranza verso tutto ciò che provoca dolore. Scompare così nell’uomo la capacità di procurarsi quel tipo di gioia che si ottiene soltanto superando ostacoli a prezzo di dure fatiche”. Nella società del benessere e del comfort “l’alternarsi di gioia e dolore, voluto dalla natura, si riduce a oscillazioni appena percettibili, che sono fonte di una noia senza fine”, noia che è alla base di quella illimitata ricerca del “piacere” – che della “gioia” è solo la caricatura parossistica - su cui fa leva la società dei consumi.  In tal senso Lorenz, che si impegnò spesso anche sul piano delle battaglie concrete intervenendo nei dibattiti pubblici e partecipando a molte iniziative ambientaliste, espresse anche posizioni controcorrente e trasversali rispetto a certo ambientalismo anche oggi prevalente, difendendo, ad esempio, la legittimità della caccia, e battendosi invece contro l’aborto, ritenuto una pratica innaturale. Al tempo stesso prese le distanze da ogni naturalismo inteso quale ritorno ad utopici quanto irrealistici “stati di natura”, in quanto vedeva la dimensione culturale e spirituale come consustanziale all’uomo, che privato di essa sarebbe privato quindi della sua “natura” più autentica.  Lo stesso studio del mondo animale, che ha impegnato tutta la sua vita, non è stato mai inteso da Lorenz in senso puramente tecno-scientifico: “vorrei dire innanzitutto che io non ho cominciato a tenere degli animali perché ne avevo bisogno per scopi scientifici: no, tutta la mia vita è stata legata strettamente agli animali, fin dalla prima infanzia… Crescendo ho allevato gli animali più diversi… Mi sono comportato sempre in questo modo: per conoscere a fondo un animale superiore, ho vissuto con lui. L’arroganza di certi scienziati moderni, che credono di poter risolvere tutti i problemi studiando un animale soltanto a livello sperimentale, è stata sempre estranea alla mia mente”. Più che il canonico approccio “scientifico”, quello di Lorenz sembra essere, almeno nelle sue finalità ultime e al di là dei suoi fondamenti epistemologici, un atteggiamento di tipo “intuitivo”, volto ad una comprensione complessiva dei fenomeni naturali e alieno da ogni visione meramente sperimentale e quantitativa. Ciò che davvero gli interessava era alla fine risensibilizzare l’uomo moderno al legame simpatetico con il mondo degli animali e della natura in genere, legame andato quasi completamente perduto per l’uomo civilizzato. Questi paga tale perdita anche con l’estinzione del senso estetico, che per Lorenz si lega strettamente al contatto con l’incredibile varietà della forme naturali e la grandezza della creazione che sovrasta l’uomo. Per Lorenz i sentimenti estetici sono infatti parte del patrimonio genetico dell’umanità, e hanno svolto anch’essi, quindi, un compito importate nel corso dell’evoluzione umana ai fini adattativi; mentre oggi l’uomo si va pericolosamente assuefacendo al “brutto” che domina incontrastato nelle nostre metropoli, dove ogni senso della bellezza sembra essersi obliato. La disarmonia che caratterizza la vita del moderno uomo inurbato si lega ad un altro infausto fenomeno, quello della sovrappopolazione, che Lorenz non vede solo nell’ottica economicistica - anche oggi spesso prevalente nei movimenti ambientalisti e terzomondisti - dello squilibrio tra risorse disponibili e popolazione, ma sempre in rapporto a dimensioni “esistenziali” più profonde, ancora una volta suggeritegli dagli studi etologici. Come ogni specie vivente ha bisogno, in base all’istinto di territorialità, di un suo ben delimitato “spazio vitale” (inteso in senso “psicologico” e non solo materiale), anche l’uomo difficilmente può adattarsi a vivere tra folle anonime di individui sconosciuti, dato che il forzato contatto ravvicinato e permanente con “estranei” genera inevitabilmente tensione ed aggressività, favorendo l’insorgere di quelle patologie tipiche della modernità quali stress e nevrosi.

La radicale critica della società moderna portò Lorenz a scontrarsi violentemente con la cultura progressista che monopolizzava il dibattito intellettuale degli anni sessanta e settanta ed ispirava i movimenti politici alternativi di quegli anni, movimenti che auspicavano una “rivoluzione” che andava, per molti aspetti, nel senso contrario a quello indicato da Lorenz. Critico verso ogni ottimismo progressista che esaltasse “le magnifiche sorti e progressive” dell’era della tecnica, Lorenz denunciò con altrettanto vigore l’ideologia del “nuovismo”, che egli considerava espressione di puro infantilismo, dato che è tipico dei bambini l’ingenuo entusiasmo verso tutto ciò che si presenta come “nuovo”. Contro i miti contestatari giovanili, Lorenz difese invece le tradizioni, la cultura e le strutture sociali sulle quali si erano funzionalmente rette le comunità e le società del passato, con accenti che non ci aspetteremmo da uno scienziato del XX secolo, come difese il principio di autorità nei processi educativi, vedendo in tutto ciò il portato di dinamiche socio-adattative coerenti con i dettati dell’evoluzione naturale. Lo stesso concetto di “rivoluzione” era del resto vivacemente contestato da Lorenz, dato che “la natura non fa salti” e che l’evoluzione procede per passi lenti e spesso impercettibili. Per questo l’incomprensione generazionale tra padri e figli che caratterizzava quegli anni era da lui vista come un fenomeno deleterio e pericoloso per un armonioso sviluppo della società. La stessa valorizzazione della fatica e della sofferenza andava contro le spinte moderniste di gran parte del movimento contestatore, che le considerava assurde sopravvivenze di secoli oscuri che grazie al progresso della tecnica e allo sviluppo economico l’uomo si sarebbe lasciato completamente alle spalle, essendo la liberazione dal dolore e il perseguimento del benessere “diritti” inalienabili che a tutti dovevano essere garantiti. Indifferente alle critiche che gli venivano mosse, forte delle sue convinzioni, Lorenz non si peritò di mettere in discussione lo stesso principio dell’uguaglianza tra gli uomini, che egli vedeva come una malsana distorsione del legittimo riconoscimento dell’eguale dignità di ogni uomo così come di ogni essere vivente. Secondo Lorenz l’egualitarismo, unito a quella che egli chiama la dottrina “pseudo-democratica” di ispirazione comportamentista secondo cui sarebbe possibile cambiare gli uomini a piacimento se solo si muta il contesto ambientale in cui essi si trovano a vivere, altro non è che un falso mito espressione della progressiva omologazione culturale che caratterizza la società moderna; omologazione di cui egli individuava le responsabilità nello strapotere del mercato, delle multinazionali e dei mezzi di comunicazione di massa. Il mondo moderno è caratterizzato da “una uniformità di idee quale non si era mai vista in nessun’altra epoca della storia” – sottolinea Lorenz - a tutto detrimento del pluralismo culturale, che, quale espressione del più vasto fenomeno naturale della diversità biologica, è un patrimonio da salvaguardare come uno dei cardini su cui si reggono l’evoluzione e la possibilità di riproduzione della vita stessa. Lorenz ritiene pertanto l’ineguaglianza un fattore costitutivo della natura, senza il quale essa perderebbe la sua forza creativa ed espansiva, non solo in termini biologici, ma anche e soprattutto a livello sociale e culturale, in quanto è proprio “l’ineguaglianza dell’uomo – affermò - uno dei fondamenti ed una delle condizioni di ogni cultura, perché è essa che introduce la diversità nella cultura”. Allo stesso modo egli individuava già allora nella perniciosa influenza della cultura americana le origini dei mali che attanagliavano l’umanità: “le malattie intellettuali della nostra epoca – sostiene - usano venire dall’America e manifestarsi in Europa con un certo ritardo”, così come al dominio delle ideologie egualitarie e pseudo-democratiche “va certamente attribuita una gran parte della responsabilità per il crollo morale e culturale che incombe sugli Stati Uniti”.

Figura proteiforme, difficilmente inquadrabile secondo gli schemi consueti, Lorenz visse profondamente le forti contraddizioni e i radicali cambiamenti che caratterizzarono il suo tempo. La sua complessa disamina della società moderna, intrisa di un così esasperato pessimismo, sfugge anch’essa a facili classificazioni, suscitando spesso sbrigative prese di distanza così come semplicistiche ed entusiastiche adesioni. Se il parallelismo che egli pone tra i processi evolutivi del regno animale e le dinamiche storico-sociali può lasciare perplessi, prestando il fianco ad accuse di riduzionismo biologista, lo sfidare gli apologeti del progresso tecno-scientifico sul loro stesso terreno dell’argomentazione positiva spiazza molti dei suoi detrattori. Anche i suoi toni a volte apocalittici possono sembrare eccessivi ed ingiustificati; ma non bisogna dimenticare che Lorenz scriveva in un periodo in cui i problemi da lui diagnosticati stavano per la prima volta presentando i loro risvolti devastanti su scala planetaria, senza che si fosse ancora sviluppata una forte sensibilità condivisa verso di essi. Come accennato, Lorenz stesso rivide progressivamente alcune delle sue posizioni e ritenne non più giustificabile il radicale pessimismo che aveva espresso, costatando come le tematiche su cui aveva richiamato l’attenzione fin dagli anni sessanta erano sempre più al centro del dibattito culturale e ormai nell’agenda di impegni di molti gruppi e movimenti politici e ambientalisti. “Colui che credeva di predicare solitario nel deserto, parlava, come si è dimostrato, davanti ad un uditorio numeroso ed intellettualmente vivo” - riconosce Lorenz, e “i pericoli della sovrappopolazione e dell’ideologia dello sviluppo vengono giustamente valutati da un numero rapidamente crescente di persone ragionevoli e responsabili”. Per questo Lorenz finì per prendere le distanze dai “catastrofisti”, da coloro che credevano possibile figurarsi con certezza l’avvenire dell’umanità predicando la sua prossima fine, dato che, come recita il titolo del succitato libro scritto con Karl Popper, il “futuro è aperto”, e l’irriducibilità ad ogni possibile determinismo costituisce pur sempre la cifra dell’uomo e della storia. Se il futuro è certamente aperto e la critica all’ideologia sviluppista non è più patrimonio di isolati predicatori nel deserto, è pur vero, però, che molti dei “peccati della civiltà” stigmatizzati da Lorenz restano ancor oggi impuniti, se non si sono addirittura aggravati. Di fronte alla sua disamina, si ha anzi l’impressione, a volte, che molte delle sue riflessioni e degli allarmi lanciati appaiano scontati e banali; e ciò non perché l’odierna umanità abbia risolto o quanto meno imboccato la strada giusta per risolvere i mali denunciati, ma - ed è quel che è più disperante - semplicemente perché vi si è ormai assuefatta. Ecco perché, al di là di quanto è stato fatto o resta da fare, e al di là dei giudizi e dei convincimenti di ciascuno, riteniamo quanto meno indispensabile e di grande attualità, oggi, la rilettura della sua opera.


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jeudi, 25 février 2010

Von Bio-Hackern und künstlichen Bazillen

Von Bio-Hackern und künstlichen Bazillen

Andreas von Rétyi / Ex: http://info.kopp-verlag.de/

Supermenschen, biologische Roboter und synthetische Lebensformen zählen nicht nur zum allseits beliebten Hollywood-Repertoire, sondern genauso auch zu den futuristischen Forschungsprojekten des Militärs. Genom-Hacker dringen zu den innersten Geheimnissen des Lebens vor, um neue Wesen ganz nach Maß zu schaffen. Ziel: unsterbliche Erfüllungsgehilfen für die verschiedensten Einsätze. Das Pentagon mischt natürlich tüchtig mit – und auch private Bio-Hacker rühren in der gefährlichen Brühe herum.

robots_z_1206527109.jpgDie Pentagon-Behörde für fortschrittliche Verteidigungsforschung DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) stößt oftmals in utopisch wirkende Dimensionen vor, um zu zeigen, was prinzipiell machbar ist. Und genau damit rücken diese Utopien bereits wieder in greifbare Nähe. Die militärische Forschergilde findet zunehmend Geschmack an ganz besonderen Rezepten, wie sie derzeit in ganz besonderen »Kochkursen« ersonnen werden. Denn neue DNA-Cocktails, künstliche Ursüppchen und mehrgängige Biosynthese-Menüs erfreuen sich bei den militärischen Gen-Gourmets wachsender Beliebtheit.

Jetzt fördert die DARPA das Projekt BioDesign mit Dollar-Millionen. Nichts als vorsichtige Anfänge allerdings. Immerhin aber sollen die Forschungen zur gezielten Modifikation von Genen merklich beschleunigt werden, um künstliche Kreaturen mit den ungewöhnlichsten Eigenschaften zum Leben zu erwecken. Die DARPA-Visionäre wollen die evolutionsbedingte »Zufälligkeit« ausschalten und genetisch programmierte, synthetische Organismen erzeugen, die unbegrenzte Zeiträume leben können und all das tun, was ihre Schöpfer von ihnen erwarten. Sollte das aber einmal nicht funktionieren und in alter SF-Manier eine gefährliche Fehlfunktion auftreten, darf ein – selbst natürlich unfehlbares – genetisches Selbstzerstörungsprogramm logischerweise nicht fehlen, ein Code, der automatisch in Gang gesetzt wird und dem ganzen Spuk ein jähes Ende setzt.

Die Kombination von Leben und Technik beginnt bereits auf der mikrobiologischen Ebene. Denn bekanntlich macht Kleinvieh auch Mist, und ohne die winzigsten Organismen gäbe es uns sowieso nicht. Paradebeispiel Cyano-Bakterien als supereffektive Sauerstoffproduzenten. Was vor Milliarden Jahren auf der Erde geschah, wollen Planeteningenieure und »Terraformer« in unbestimmter Zukunft auch auf dem Mars bewerkstelligen: die Umwandlung einer kompletten Atmosphäre mit entscheidender Starthilfe von Mikroben.

Abgesehen aber von diesen eher fernen Träumen gibt es schon jetzt harte Fakten. An zahlreichen Instituten wird weltweit fieberhaft an bizarren und auch bedrohlichen Konzepten getüftelt. Mit sogar relativ einfachen Mitteln und teils auch im Rahmen studentischer Projekte soll eine sehr zielorientierte Umformung des Lebens erreicht werden. Natürlich mit ganz anderen Absichten als die Planetenumwandler, aber mit nicht weniger Ehrgeiz. Mittlerweile ist schon von einer »Revolution der synthetischen Biologie« die Rede.

Der DARPA und verschiedenen Forschungsinstituten geht es aber nicht alleine darum, möglichst naturgetreue humanoide Biosysteme zu schaffen, synthetische Wesen, die im »Idealfall« nicht mehr von Menschen zu unterscheiden wären. Vor allem nämlich eine Idee begeistert die Experimentatoren: Sie wollen nicht nur genetische Bauteile kopieren und neu zusammenstellen, sondern auch völlig neue Gene und einen neuen genetischen Code schaffen. Wieder eingepflanzt in ausgewählte Bakterien sollen die Mikroben dann als lebende Werkzeuge tätig werden und ihre genetisch neu definierten Aufgaben erfüllen, darunter die Produktion von Treibstoffen oder auch Pharmazeutika.

Das Neudesign des Gencodes muss aber laut einer Studentengruppe der Universität von New York nicht auf hochspezialisierte Labors beschränkt bleiben. Die DIYbio-Gruppe (DIYbio = Do it yourself Biology) stellt sich eine wachsende Beteiligung von Amateurbiologen vor. Und davon gibt es schon jetzt eine ganze Reihe. Freizeit-Genetiker und Bio-Hacker, die im Hobbykeller, in der Garage oder gar der heimischen Küche neues Erbgut züchten. Manche Zeitgenossen betrachten deren Passion als Legospiel auf deutlich höherer Ebene, andere sehen darin einen riskanten, weitgehend unkontrollierten und ungeschützten Umgang mit potenziell gefährlichen Viren und Mikroben. Dass dereinst auch Kinder mit Mikroben herumbasteln und dazu die geeigneten Gen-Experimentierkästen zu Weihnachten geschenkt bekommen werden, davon ist der visionäre US-Physiker Freeman Dyson bereits eine ganze Weile überzeugt. Baupläne für Viren können heute schon »ergoogelt« werden, auch die Hardware ist verfügbar.

Mittlerweile existieren auch große »Bibliotheken« mit genetischen Bauteilen, beispielsweise das Registry of Standard Biological Parts am Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) mit rund 5.000 »BioBricks«, also biologischen Bausteinen. Am MIT gibt es übrigens schon seit bald einem Jahrzehnt ein Preisausschreiben für die das »beste Bakterien-Neudesign«! Wer baut die tollste Bazille!

Die Gefahren solcher Technologien liegen wie bei vielen anderen Versuchsfeldern des Menschen klar auf der Hand. Eine hundertprozentige Sicherheit der Verfahren und Ergebnisse kann niemand wirklich garantieren. Schon heute lauern in den großen militärischen und geheimdienstlichen Biolabors die gefährlichsten Mikroben. Allesamt tickende Zeitbomben. Mit Gewissheit sind auch dies exakt die Stätten der skrupellosesten, der bedrohlichsten Entwicklungen auf dem Sektor. Was wird die nächste Generation der Gen-Hacker an bedrohlichen Neukreationen zu schaffen im Stande sein?

 

Donnerstag, 18.02.2010

Kategorie: Enthüllungen, Wissenschaft

© Das Copyright dieser Seite liegt, wenn nicht anders vermerkt, beim Kopp Verlag, Rottenburg


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mardi, 09 février 2010

Mandelbrot repose le problème: le chaos, nouvelle science

mandelbrot_img.jpgArchives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1988

Mandelbrot repose le problème

 

Le chaos, nouvelle science

 

par Manuel TOHARIA

 

«La Science classique s'arrête là où débute le chaos».

Cet aphorisme communément accepté est valable depuis à peine une décennie. L'ancienne géométrie ne résoud plus les problèmes. Mais ces dernières années, les scientifiques se sont de plus en plus penchés sur le problème des désordres, des turbulences, des discontinuités, des «monstruosités». Et les philosophes, les sociologues, les politologues se sont élancés dans leur sillage…

 

Les défenseurs des nouvelles théories du chaos prétendent que le siècle prochain n'aura en mémoire, de la science du XXième siècle, que trois disciplines: la relativité, la mécanique quantique et le chaos. Il s'agit probablement d'une exagération; bien que, en y pensant bien, le monde dans son ensemble, si l'on dépasse ce qui est simplement anthropocentrique, soit  effectivement dirigé par la relativité dans le macrocosmos, par les lois quantiques dans le microcosmos, et… est-il également mené par le chaos, à notre échelle humaine, pour tout ce qui ne s'explique pas par l'ordre?

 

Qu'entendons-nous réellement par chaos? Depuis que les physiciens essaient de comprendre le monde, la science a fait abstraction des désordres de l'atmosphère, de la mer turbulente, des oscillations au sein des populations animales et végétales, des variations, sans explications parfois, des rythmes du cerveau et du cœur, bref, de la nature, quand elle montre son côté irrégulier, discontinu, et donc chaotique.

 

Dans les années 70, un groupe de scientifiques, qui étaient généralement isolés et qui ne s'étaient pas consultés au préalable, s'intéressèrent, en même temps, aux questions qui, apparemment, n'étaient pas soumises aux lois scientifiques et qui, par conséquent, s'avéraient incompréhensibles. Les physiologistes découvraient l'existence d'un certain ordre, assez surprenant, dans le chaos qui se produit dans un cœur humain, lors d'une mort subite. Les écologistes étudiaient les oscillations survenant dans le nombre d'individus existants au sein de l'espèce du ver à soie, le rombix mori. Les économistes prétendaient appliquer de nouvelles analyses aux cracks  financiers et, en général, aux mouvements boursiers. Les météorologistes voulaient comprendre pourquoi les nuages ont telle ou telle forme et pourquoi les rayons tombent de telle ou telle façon. Les astrophysiciens voulaient expliquer la concentration de matière dans les étoiles et dans les galaxies. Les mathématiciens, finalement, lançaient de nouvelles théories sur les systèmes dynamiques et analysaient les nouvelles figures géométriques ramifiées de façon apparemment capricieuse… Il y a un plus de dix ans, un physico-mathématicien français déchaîna une polémique scientifique en affirmant que la turbulence dans les fluides était à mettre en relation avec un certain élément étranger, relié à la notion mathématique  —et non physique—  de l'infini, élément qu'il baptisa «élément attractif étranger».

 

Toute cette inquiétude, soulignée par Mandelbrot, s'est aujourd'hui généralisée sous le nom global de chaos, tout un mouvement de restructuration scientifique  —et en même temps, de la pensée humaine dans tous les domaines—  qui met en question l'essence même de la science en tant qu'édifice des savoirs acquis.

 

Un symptôme exprimant bien l'intérêt éveillé par cette nouvelle approche de la science apparaît dans le fait qu'aux Etats-Unis, le Pentagone, la CIA et le Département de l'Energie consacrent des sommes sans cesse croissantes aux recherches menées sur des phénomènes du chaos dans tous les domaines de l'activité humaine. Et dans les universités et les grands centres de recherches du monde entier commencent à proliférer des instituts se livrant à des recherches sur le chaos et sur les problèmes y afférant.

 

L'image du désordre

 

Cette nouvelle science a conçu, grâce à certaines méthodes informatiques très particulières, d'étranges images de synthèse pour tenter de décrire la subtilité surprenante des structures les plus complexes et les plus arbitraires que l'on puisse imaginer. Et, au cours de ces premiers balbutiements, s'est créé un nouveau langage à base de néologismes que peu de gens comprennent, comme les fractales et les bifurcations, les intermittences et les périodicités, les diféomorphismes de la serviette pliée et les applications des escargots planes… Ce sont les nouveaux concepts d'une science nouvelle, les équivalents des quarks et des gluons que durent inventer les physiciens quand ils allèrent au-delà du proton et du neutron.

 

Pour certains, la physique du chaos devient la science des processus plus que la science des états fixes; quelque chose comme la science du devenir au lieu de la science de ce qui est. Tout cela devient fort abstrait, mais derrière cette obscurité du langage innovateur qui prétend expliquer ce qu'auparavant personne n'expliquait, on trouve des phénomènes naturels, bien courants: la fumée d'un cigare qui monte en volutes désordonnées, le drapeau qui oscille de son propre mouvement, le jet d'eau qui sort du robinet et qui change de forme sans raison apparente… Le chaos est présent autour de nous, sans que nous nous en rendions compte: dans les nuages, dans les bouchons des autoroutes et des routes, dans le vol d'un avion, dans la façon dont tombent les feuilles d'arbres à l'automne, dans la circulation du sang dans les artères et dans les veines, dans l'apparition soudaine d'un conflit violent entre régions d'un même pays que des mois auparavant, le monde entier appelait Yougoslavie…

 

Préceptes pour l'avenir

 

Les scientifiques disent que tous ces phénomènes peuvent être décrits par les nouvelles lois du chaos, qui sont valables tant pour le nuage de tempête que pour les décisions d'un exécutif d'assurances. Ce qui vient à signifier, dans un certain sens, que le chaos élimine les barrières existant, actuellement, entre les différentes disciplines scientifiques. Ainsi l'élimination des spécialisations qui commençaient, ceci dit en passant, à s'asphyxier l'une l'autre à cause de l'isolement qu'elles finissaient par engendrer.

 

Pour revenir aux trois révolutions de la pensée scientifique qui resteront peut-être comme échantillon du génie des hommes du XXième siècle, un physicien du chaos a dit: «La relativité a éliminé l'illusion newtonienne d'un espace et d'un temps absolus, la mécanique quantique a supprimé le rêve newtonien d'un procédé unique de mesure des phénomènes physiques, qui soit contrôlable et non indéterminé, et finalement, le chaos élimine l'utopie laplacienne de la prédictabilité déterministe».

 

Curieusement, et en dépit des difficultés suscitées par ces nouvelles façons de penser, le chaos est ce qui se rapproche le plus de nous, celui qui s'exerce à notre échelle humaine, dans l'univers que nous touchons et que nous voyons. Les grands monstres de l'astrophysique relativiste, comme par exemple les trous noirs, ne sont pas aussi étranges que les monstres infimes —quarks, leptons— gouvernés par la tyrannie quantique. En échange, la fumée d'une cigarette, les embouteillages du vendredi, l'arrêt cardiaque subit ou la forme d'un nuage d'été nous sont familiers, ils sont bien proches de nous.

 

Pourtant nous nous rendons maintenant compte que les scientifiques ne possèdent aucune explication pour beaucoup de ces phénomènes. En effet, ce que nous savions peut-être, c'est comment se comportait une seule molécule de matière, mais pas comment se comportent, ensemble, des millions de millions de molécules. Ce qui nous manquait peut-être, c'était une nouvelle science capable de franchir l'abîme séparant la connaissance du comportement d'un objet isolé  —par exemple, une goutte d'eau, un cheveu, une cellule de tissu cardiaque ou épithélial, un neurone, une particule de fumée, une voiture sur une route dégagée—  de la connaissance du comportement de millions d'objets égaux et rassemblés.

 

Il nous faut un nouveau savoir capable de relier la science et les chaos. Apparemment, nous le possédons déjà: il s'agit simplement de la science du chaos.

 

Manuel TOHARIA.

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lundi, 09 février 2009

Dietrich Georg Kieser (1779-1862)

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SYNERGIES EUROPÉENNES - DÉCEMBRE 1992

 

 

Robert STEUCKERS:

Dietrich Georg Kieser  (1779-1862)

 

 

Né à Harburg/Elbe le 24 août 1779, Kieser entame des études de médecine à Göttingen en 1801, qui le conduiront à ouvrir plusieurs cabinets avant d'être nommé professeur à Iéna en 1812. Volontaire de guerre en 1814/15, il dirigea deux hôpitaux de campagne à Liège et à Versailles. Il poursuivit ensuite ses activités médicales en dirigeant des cliniques privées d'orthopédie puis de psychiatrie (1847-58). Il est considéré comme le principal représentant de la médecine romantique, dérivée de la Naturphilosophie  et étayée par la philosophie de Schelling. Ses travaux scientifiques procèdent par empirisme. Kieser défendit, dans le cadre de ses activités de psychiatre, le principe du conditionnement somatique des troubles psychiques. Mais sa médecine et sa psychiatrie ne se bornent pas à rencenser des faits empiriques: Kieser tente de confronter et de mélanger ses observations aux interprétations spéculatives du cercle formé par Blumenbach, Himly, Goethe, Schelling et Oken. Cette fertilisation croisée de deux domaines, généralement posés comme indépendants l'un de l'autre, a été féconde dans les domaines de la phytotomie et de la psychiatrie. Influencé par le mesmérisme dans sa jeunesse, Kieser affirme que toute maladie survenant dans un organisme sain est en fait un processus de régression qui contrarie le déploiement de la vie, sa marche ascensionnelle de bas en haut. L'objet de la médecine, dans cette perspective, n'est plus de parfaire un ensemble de techniques thérapeutiques mais de restaurer un rapport optimal entre la personne, le monde et Dieu. Ce qui induit le philosophe à parler d'une médecine de l'identité humaine, où la maladie reçoit un statut ontologique, dans le sens où elle affecte la subjectivité de l'homme et est, dès lors, composante incontournable de l'humanité de l'homme. La médecine doit dès lors soigner et guérir des personnes précises, inaliénables de par leur spécificité.

 

Quant à la philosophie du tellurisme de Kieser, elle démonte le système des Lumières, dans le sens où elle lui reproche de n'explorer que le pôle diurne/solaire de la nature en négligeant les potentialités du pôle nocturne/tellurique. En ce sens, la science romantique de Kieser dédouble la perspective de la connaissance et tourne le dos à l'unilatéralisme des Lumières.

Kieser, après une vie vouée à l'université et à la science médicale, meurt à Iéna, le 11 octobre 1862.

 

 

Système du tellurisme ou du magnétisme animal. Un manuel pour naturalistes et médecins (System des Tellurismus oder thierischen Magnetismus. Ein Handbuch für Naturforscher und Aertze), 2 vol., 1821-1822

 

 

Ouvrage qui définit, à la suite du mesmérisme et de l'intérêt romantique pour les composantes nocturnes de l'âme humaine, les notions de magnétisme, de somnambulisme et de sidérisme (magnétisme animal). La vie oscille entre deux pôles de potentialités magnétiques (magnetische Potenzen), les potentialités magnétiques/telluriques et les potentialités antimagnétiques/solaires/anti-telluriques, entre des potentialités dynamiques (étudiées par la chimie) et des potentialités mécaniques (définies par les lois de la pesanteur). Cette oscillation est déterminée par les rythmes du jour et de la nuit, entre lesquels l'homme doit trouver l'équilibre. Sur le plan de la psychiatrie, Kieser explique, dans son System des Tellurismus,  que les guérisons "miraculeuses" sont en réalité des guérisons conscientes, déterminées par le magnétisme, la volonté et la force du psychisme. Il analyse ensuite les travaux de ceux qui l'ont précédé dans sa théorie du magnétisme: Henricus C.A. von Nettesheym, Petrus Pomponatius, Julius Vanninus, J.B. van Helmont, William Maxwell, Athanasius Kircher et Sebastian Wirdig. Sans oublier Friedrich Anton Mesmer et son De influxu planetarum in corpus humanum. Il poursuit son exposé en brossant l'histoire philosophique du tellurisme et du magnétisme, force émanant de la terre, non captable par simple empirie et compénétrant tout. Nos comportements et nos actes volontaires sont captateurs de magnétisme. Dans notre vie nocturne, il y a irruption directe dans nos corps des magnétismes issus de la Terre. La théorie du magnétisme de Kieser permet de repérer les premières manifestations scientifiques de l'opposition intellectuelle aux Lumières, avec l'attention aux rythmes biologiques et aux études psychologiques et psychiques que cela implique.

 

(Robert Steuckers).

 

- Bibliographie:

De anamorphosi oculi/Über die Metamorphose des Thierauges, 1804 (thèse de doctorat); Aphorismen aus der Physiologie der Pflanzen, 1808; Über die Natur, Ursachen, Kennzeichen und Heilung des schwarzen Staars, 1810; Ursprung des Darmcanals aus der vesicula umbilicalis dargestellt, im menschlichen Embryo, 1810; Entwurf einer Geschichte und Beschreibung der Badeanstalt bei Northeim, 1810; Beiträge zur vergleichenden Zoologie, Anatomie und Physiologie  (avec Oken), 2 cahiers, 1806, 1807; Über die Metamorphose des Auges des bebrüteten Hühnchens im Eye, s.d.; Grundzüge der Pathologie und Therapie des Menschen, 1812; Mémoire sur l'organisation des plantes, 1812 (version allemande: Grundzüge zur Anatomie der Pflanzen, 1815); Über das Wesen und die Bedeutung der Exantheme, 1813; Vorbeugungs- und Verhaltungsmaßregeln bei ansteckenden faul-Fieberepidemieen, 1813; System der Medizin, 1817-19; System des Tellurismus oder thierischen Magnetismus,  2 vol., 1821-1822; entre 1817 et 1824, Kieser édite, avec Eschenmeyer et Nasse, la revue Archiv für thierischen Magnetismus  (12 vol.); ensuite Kieser édite seul Sphinx. Neues Archiv für den thierischen Magnetismus, 1825-26, 2 vol.; De febris puerperarum indole et medendi ratione, 7 cahiers, 1825-29; Klinische Beiträge, revue éditée par Kieser parue en 1834; Disert. med.-pract. exhibens decennium clinicum in Acad. Jenensi inde ab anno 1831 ad annum 1841 auspiciis Dr. Kieseri habitum, 1844; Über der Emancipation des Verbrechers im Kerker, 1845; Von den Leidenschaften und Affecten, 1848; Zur Geschichte der kaiserlichen Leopoldinisch-Carolinischen Akademie der Naturforscher, 1851.

- Sur Kieser: C.G. Carus, in Verhandlungen der Leopoldinischen Akademie,  Bd. XXX, Leopoldina, Heft IV, p. 33; Ph. v. Martius, Akad. Denkreden,  Leipzig, 1866, p. 500; A. Hirsch, "Dietrich Georg Kieser", in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 15, 1882; F. Tuczek, in Th. Kirchhoff, Deutsche Irrenärzte, 1921, I, pp. 117-123; W. Brednow, Dietrich Georg Kieser. Sein Leben und Werk, 1970; Hans Sohni, "Dietrich Georg Kieser", in Neue Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 11, Duncker und Humblot, Berlin, 1977; Georges Gusdorf, Le savoir romantique de la nature, Payot, Paris, 1985, pp. 240-241.

 

dimanche, 08 février 2009

Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer (1765-1844)

 

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SYNERGIES EUROPÉENNES -DÉCEMBRE 1992

 

 

Robert STEUCKERS/

Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer  (1765-1844)

 

 

Le naturaliste Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer, né le 22 octobre 1765 à Bebenhausen près de Tübingen, s'inscrit aux facultés de médecine et de sciences naturelles de la célèbre Karlsschule de Stuttgart. Dès l'âge de 19 ans, il y enseigne; parmi ses élèves: Georges Cuvier, originaire de Montbéliard alors possession wurtembergeoise, dont il devient l'ami. Il entame ensuite une longue et brillante carrière universitaire dans les domaines de la zoologie, de la botanique, de la chimie   —sa matière favorite—   de la pharmacie et de la médecine (notamment d'anatomie comparée). Kielmeyer a écrit peu de livres mais développé plusieurs concepts nouveaux, qui ont préparé la voie aux théories de l'évolution, notamment celles de Cuvier, avec qui Kielmeyer entretiendra une correspondance suivie jusqu'à sa mort. Kielmeyer fut le premier à poser une comparaison globale entre tous les animaux selon leur composition organique et leurs diverses fonctions. Son idée motrice était la suivante: les animaux de la Terre, aussi différents soient-ils les uns des autres, participent tous d'un type constitutif commun, sont tous, sans exception, des reflets modifiés d'un même modèle constitutif primordial. L'ensemble du monde animal consiste en une série de constitutions biologiques analogues, lesquelles sont la plupart du temps des involutions par rapport au modèle primordial, en sont des simplifications. Mais cette série de types récapitule simultanément tous les stades évolutifs que traverse chaque individualité animale. En constatant ce fait, Kielmeyer découvre la "loi biogénétique" et donne un coup d'envoi à la zoologie moderne. Kielmeyer refusa souvent de faire imprimer ses cours et ses manuscrits: ce qui explique sa modeste célébrité posthume, malgré l'éloge qu'il reçut d'un Schelling. Kielmeyer meurt le 24 septembre 1844.

 

 

Sur le rapport des forces organiques entre elles (Über die Verhältnisse der organischen Kräfte untereinander) 1793

 

 

Considéré comme un ouvrage fondamental par Cuvier et par le philosophe et germaniste français contemporain Georges Gusdorf (dont nous reprenons ici l'analyse), cet opuscule d'une vingtaine de pages esquisse une biologie générale. Kielmeyer tente d'expliquer l'ensemble des phénomènes vivants à l'aide de quelques lois simples. Cette volonté didactique n'empêche pas Kielmeyer de percevoir une interaction générale entre tous ces phénomènes du vivant et de discerner leur comportement comme un jeu de forces perpétuellement changeant et se combinant en proportions variables. Dans ce jeu de force, nous trouvons l'irritabilité, la sensibilité, la reproduction, la faculté sécrétoire et la force de propulsion. Chaque espèce animale ou végétale reflète un agencement différent des composantes de ce jeu de forces, ce qui fait sa différence. En analysant la nature de cette façon, Kielmeyer abandonne les visions rigides et figées de la physis, où tous phénomènes seraient directement interprétables et saisissables. Les jeux combinatoires interdisent de penser la fixité du monde et de déclarer ce dernier définitivement appréhendé. Mais pour expliquer cette dimension incommensurable de la nature, Kielmeyer n'a pas recours à la Providence ou au divin  —ce qui pour lui serait un asile d'ignorance—  mais parle d'"une économie interne soumise à des régulations accessibles à l'intelligence humaine" (Gusdorf, op. cit., infra). Kielmeyer contribue ainsi à donner une assiette scientifique à la Naturphilosophie, en mettant en exergue les composantes physico-chimiques à l'origine des processus vitaux. Tous ces facteurs lui apparaissent fédérés, nous explique Gusdorf, "par une force originaire irréductible, comparable à la lumière, elle-même associée à la vie".

 

(Robert Steuckers).

 

- Bibliographie:

Über den chemischen Gehalt einiger Mineralquellen,  1786 (dissertation pour l'obtention du titre de docteur en médecine); Entwurf der vergleichenden Zoologie  (recueil de discours tenus entre 1790 et 1793, non paru sous forme imprimée par la volonté de Kielmeyer lui-même); Über die Verhältnisse der organischen Kräfte untereinander, 1793 (discours prononcé à Stuttgart à l'occasion d'un anniversaire du Duc Karl); Über die Richtung der Pflanzenwurzeln nach unten und der Stämme nach oben, 1834 (discours); "Bericht über Versuche mit animalischer Electricität", in Journal der Physik,   édité par Gren, 1794, vol. VIII (texte publié sans l'autorisation de l'auteur).

- Sur Kielmeyer: Georges Cuvier, Leçons d'anatomie comparée, 1800-1805 (hommage à Kielmeyer dans l'introduction); Alexander von Humboldt, Beobachtungen aus der Zoologie und vergleichenden Anatomie, 1806 (ouvrage dédié à Kielmeyer); Lettre de Ritter à Baader du 16 novembre 1807, reprise in Baader, Sämtliche Werke, Bd. XV, Leipzig, 1857, p. 216 (en français, cf. Gusdorf, op. cit., infra); Dr. Georg Jäger, "Ehrengedächtniß des würtembergischen Staatsraths von Kielmeyer", in Verhandlungen der Leopoldinisch-Carolinischen Akademie der Naturforscher,  Bd. XXI, 1, Breslau & Bonn, 1845; Schwäbischen Merkur,  2 octobre 1844, article nécrologique; Klüpfel, "Karl Friedrich Kielmeyer", in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 15, Leipzig, 1882; F.H. Holler, art. in Schwäb. Lb. I,  1940, pp. 313-323; Th. Ballauf, Die Wissenschaft vom Leben,  Freiburg-München, 1954, p. 353;  R. Ayrault, La genèse du romantisme allemand,  t. I, Aubier, Paris, 1961, p. 299 et sqq.;  Georges Gusdorf, Le savoir romantique de la nature,  Payot, Paris, 1985, pp. 169-172.

- MOTS CLEF: évolution, biogénétique, théories de la descendance.

- PHILOSOPHES: Cuvier, Schelling.  

 

     

 

mercredi, 24 décembre 2008

Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802)

 

 

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Archives de SYNERGIES EUROPÉENNES - DÉCEMBRE 1992

 

Robert STEUCKERS:

DARWIN, Erasmus  (1731-1802)

Né à Elston Hall le 12 décembre 1731, Erasmus Darwin fréquente d'abord l'école de Chesterfield avant d'entrer en 1750 au St. John's College de Cambridge, où il obtint le grade de Bachelor of Art.  En 1754, il part à Edimbourg pour y étudier la médecine. En 1756, il est médecin, d'abord à Nottingham puis à Lichfield et à Radbourne Hall, après son second mariage. Médecin dévoué, Erasmus Darwin se rend célèbre en préchant contre les excès d'alcool. Poète fougueux, sceptique en matières religieuses, matérialiste dans l'esprit du XVIIIième siècle, correspondant de Rousseau, Erasmus Darwin est un précurseur du lamarckisme et de l'évolutionnisme de son petit-fils Charles Darwin. Bon observateur des phénomènes naturels, Erasmus Darwin n'a cependant pas pu transformer ses observations empiriques en théories, comme le fit en 1859 son très célèbre petit-fils. Son ouvrage majeur en quatre volumes, la Zoonomie,  est un monument de la médecine théorique de son époque, qui a indubitablement préparé la voie vers la biologie moderne. Erasmus Darwin meurt le 18 avril 1802 à la suite d'un malaise cardiaque. Ses travaux s'inscrivent dans un contexte familial très précis: son frère aîné, Robert Waring Darwin, écrivit un ouvrage intitulé Principia Botanica,  où l'on découvre déjà des notes très particulières sur les phénomènes biologiques. L'aîné de ses trois fils, issus de son premier mariage, étudie la médecine mais meurt accidentellement d'un malencontreux coup de bistouri lors d'une dissection. Le troisième fils de son premier mariage est le second Robert Waring Darwin, père de Charles Robert, initiateur de l'évolutionnisme. La fille aînée de son second mariage, Violetta Darwin, épouse S. Tertius Galton et sera la mère de Francis Galton, théoricien de l'eugénisme.

Zoonomia, or, the Laws of Organic Life  (Zoonomie, ou lois de la vie organique),  1794-1796

L'intention de l'auteur nous est d'emblée révélée par son traducteur, le médecin gantois Joseph-François Kluyskens: "Faire connaître les loix qui gouvernent tous les corps organisés; partir de ces mêmes loix, dans les corps les plus simples, pour remonter jusqu'à celles qui régissent l'homme, l'être le plus parfait; réduire toutes ces loix qui ont rapport à la vie organique en classes, ordres, genres et espèces, et les faire servir enfin à l'explication des causes des maladies; tel fut le but que se proposa la Docteur Darwin lorsqu'il composa la Zoonomie...".

Erasmus Darwin perçoit un lien entre métaphysique et physiologie, dans le sens où il affirme que nos facultés intellectuelles sont l'effet nécessaire de nos facultés physiques. Descartes, Mallebranche, Locke, Condillac et Hume, explique Erasmus Darwin, manquaient des notions physiologiques nécessaires pour percevoir cet état de chose ou ont négligé d'en faire l'application à leur système. Le corps de la démonstration, dans la Zoonomie, consiste en une exploration des facultés dites "sensoriales" (néologisme utilisé en français par le traducteur de la Zoonomie,  le Dr. Kluyskens). Celles-ci se répartissent en quatre classes, irritation, sensation, volition, association, auxquelles correspondent quatre classes de maladies. 

Les réflexions d'Erasmus Darwin sur l'instinct méritent amplement d'être évoquées; pour notre auteur, l'instinct n'est pas invariable; il est au contraire une sagacité susceptible de modification, se développant d'une manière différente suivant les différentes conjonctures qui en déterminent l'exercice. L'instinct provient donc d'une détermination raisonnée et non pas d'une obéissance aveugle et mécanique à une loi de la nature. La théorie zoonomique d'Erasmus Darwin, très proche du lamarckisme, repose sur un concept d'évolution, où l'action d'une "force vitale intérieure", amorcée par un filament primal originel de substance vivante, provoque le développement graduel de l'ensemble des diverses formes de vie par un processus analogue à celui de la reproduction des végétaux. La Zoonomie contient de ce fait un ensemble de réflexions sur la génération, qui font la nouveauté absolue des idées d'Erasmus Darwin. Sa méthode généalogique part d'une observation des bourgeons dans les arbres pour aboutir aux mammifères en passant par tous les animaux de la création. 

Pour Erasme Darwin, toute pathologie dérive d'un excès ou d'un défaut, d'un mouvement rétrograde des facultés du sensorium; les pathologies consistent de ce fait dans l'aberration des mouvements des fibres vivantes.

(Robert Steuckers).

- Bibliographie. Poésie: The Botanic Garden  (1794-95); The Temple of Nature or the Origin of Society  (1803; publication posthume). Ouvrages scientifiques: Zoonomia; or, the Laws of Organic Life,  in four volumes, London, J. Johnson, 1794-96 (la traduction française est basée sur la 3ième édition anglaise de 1801; Zoonomie, ou lois de la vie organique,  trad. de Joseph-François Kluyskens, en quatre volumes, Gand, P.F.  de Goesin-Verhaeghe, 1810); Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening  (1800). Autres ouvrages: A Plan for the Conduct of female Education in Boarding Schools  (1797).

- Sur Erasmus Darwin: Ernst Krause, Erasmus Darwin, trad. anglaise de W.S. Dallas, avec notice préliminaire de Charles Robert Darwin, 1879; Anna Seward, Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin,  1804 (voir également la correspondance de Miss Anna Seward); Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth;  John Dowson, Erasmus Darwin, Philosopher, Poet and Physician,  1861; cf. également, Samuel Butler (l'auteur d'Erewhon), Evolution Old and New, où le célèbre romancier tente de faire revivre l'ancien évolutionnisme d'Erasmus Darwin contre le nouvel évolutionnisme de son petit-fils Charles; Leslie Stephen, "Erasmus Darwin", in Leslie Stephen (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography,  vol. XIV, London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1888; D. M. Hassler, Erasmus Darwin,  Twayne, New York, 1973; D. King-Hele, Doctor Darwin: The Life and Genius of Erasmus Darwin, Faber, London, 1977; cf. également: D.R. Oldroyd, Darwinian Impacts. An Introduction to the Darwinian Revolution,  New South Wales University Press, Kensington (Australia), 1980, Open University Press, Milton Keynes (England), 1980. 

 

mardi, 23 décembre 2008

Paul von Krannhals (1883-1934)

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Paul von KRANNHALS (1883-1934)

 


Né le 14 novembre 1883 à Riga, Paul von Krannhals, chimiste de formation, participe à la première guerre mondiale et reste longtemps prisonnier en Russie. Après son retour au pays, il enseigne à titre privé. Son œuvre est un essai de transposition de l'organicisme implicite des sciences chimiques et biologiques dans les sphères historique, politique et religieuse. Son ouvrage majeur, Das organische Weltbild, récapitule toutes les étapes de la pensée et les théories à connotations organicistes afin d'en faire une synthèse instrumentalisable en politique. Il meurt le 18 août 1934 à Dresde.


La vue du monde organique (Das organische Weltbild), 1928


Gros ouvrage en deux volumes, Das organische Weltbild constitue une protestation contre la mécanicisation du monde et l'emprise des idéologèmes mécanicistes dans les sciences humaines. Krannhals réclame, dans tous les domaines, un «respect pour la vie». En science politique et en économie, l'individualisme a engendré l'absurdité de la lutte de tous contre tous, camouflée derrière l'idéologie du contrat qui transforme l'Etat en Zweckverband, en association d'intérêt. Tout ordre juridique basé sur le contractualisme est au service du seul bien-être matériel d'une certaine catégorie de la population. L'Etat organisé selon les principes du contractualisme ne génère pas d'éthique propre, ne suscite chez ses citoyens aucun sens du devoir, vertus qui ne sont possibles que si l'on accepte l'existence d'une totalité (Ganzheit) supérieure aux individus. L'absence d'éthique conduit à une existence privée de sens et de valeur. Le rationalisme mécaniciste fractionne et mutile l'unité de la vie. Mécanicisation est synonyme de pétrification. Se référant à l'œuvre de Ferdinand Tönnies, qui avait posé la distinction entre Kürwille (volonté arbitraire) et Wesenswille (volonté essentielle), Krannhals constate que la conjonction de l'individualisme et de l'idéologie du contrat a détruit les communautés (Gemeinschaft) pour faire place à la société (Gesellschaft). Dans ce processus, c'est un principe masculin guerrier et destructeur qui fait œuvre de dissolution et sépare les éléments constitutifs des communautés, en s'opposant à un principe féminin créateur et constructif. Les personnalités politiques, elles, sont le produit d'une fusion harmonieuse entre ces deux principes. Reprenant les dichotomies propres à la pensée vitaliste/organiciste, propre à une certaine idéologie conservatrice, Krannhals oppose, d'une part, la culture, la communauté, le sentiment, l'intuitive Wesenschau (la vision intuitive de l'essence ou des essences) et la conscience raciale (Artbewußtsein) à la civilisation mécaniciste/techniciste, à la société et aux modes éphémères successives qu'elles produisent, où la forme s'impose provisoirement comme règle obligatoire de comportement sans qu'elle n'ait contenu éthique qualitatif et durable. Krannhals définit l'essence de la conception politique organiciste, pour laquelle l'Etat organique est le contraire radical de l'Etat rébarbatif et fonctionnaire, pure construction formelle et fruit d'une logique sans âme. L'Etat organique s'oppose également à l'Etat absolutiste qui confond volontairement la direction de l'Etat (en l'occurrence le souverain) et l'Etat (Louis XIV: l'Etat, c'est moi!). Krannhals, en posant cette déclaration de principe, renoue avec Kant, dont l'œuvre tardive signale une volonté très nette de dépasser la conception de l'Etat qui repose sur le seul individu et ne vise que son «petit bonheur». Kant, affirme Krannhals, a voulu ancrer l'Etat de droit dans l'idée de la liberté éthique, justice et éthique étant ici inséparables. L'idée d'un Etat organique est précisément ce que postule la conscience éthique. Celle-ci demande au peuple, âme de l'Etat, de suivre librement, sans contraintes et en éliminant les contraintes artificielles auxquelles il pourrait avoir à faire face, les lois de la vie, qui s'incarnent dans les formes vitales naturelles. La piste organiciste inaugurée par Kant se poursuit chez Fichte et Hegel, prétend Krannhals, en dépit de la méthode dialectique. Elle se poursuit dans les travaux de l'école du droit historique (Savigny, von Eichhorn) et chez les théoriciens qui entendent «biologiser» les théories politiques, comme le géopoliticien et politologue suédois Rudolf Kjellén ou le philosophe français Gustave Le Bon. Krannhals se réfère plus explicitement à H.G. Holle pour qui le Volk est primordial et l'Etat, secondaire, simple forme organisée et organisatrice du peuple. Portée par une démarche racisante, la définition que donnent Krannhals et Holle du Volk n'exclut par pour autant les peuples mixés. Là où il y a mélange racial, il peut subsister un peuple tant que le noyau originel homogène —le völkischer Grundstock— continue à déterminer la culture. La conscience éthique d'un peuple n'est rien d'autre que la pleine acceptation et l'épanouissement de la conscience intime propre qu'il a de lui-même, en temps que phénomène naturel. Au regard de ces définitions organicistes/biologisantes, Krannhals conclut que l'objectif de tout ordre juridique véritable consiste à protéger les nécessités biologiques de la vie communautaire du peuple. La politique organique doit empêcher les groupes d'intérêts de dominer l'Etat. Le libéralisme n'assure pas la liberté au sens éthique du terme. Krannhals oppose, dans la ligne de Sombart, le marxisme au «véritable socialisme». La tâche de l'Etat et du «véritable socialisme» est d'organiser et de fédérer les différences sociales et non pas de perpétuer leurs antagonismes dans des jeux parlementaires stériles parce que purement discursifs. Dans son chapitre définissant l'économie organique, Krannhals récapitule toutes les grandes orientations de l'école des économistes organicistes, mélange d'autarcie fichtéenne, de socialisme de la chaire et de corporatisme conservateur. Par une dichotomie didactique où la volonté polémique n'est pas absente, Krannhals oppose l'argent (Geld) au sang (Blut), soit un principe quantitatif (et qui transforme tout qualitatif en quantitatif) à un principe qualitatif (qui transforme tout quantitatif en qualitatif). L'objectif de l'économie organique est de parvenir à la domination du sang sur l'argent, de la personnalité sur les choses. La science s'est effondrée et patine car elle s'est isolée du vécu. Elle ne pourra progresser que par une revalorisation de ses dimensions instinctives. Le vécu est source inépuisable dans le processus de formation des concepts. Le savoir doit s'organiser à partir du vécu local, de l'expérience nationale du peuple. L'art et la religion doivent également emprunter des pistes organiques s'ils veulent échapper à la stérilisation provoquée par la domination des idéologèmes mécanicistes.

(Robert Steuckers).


- Bibliographie: Das organische Weltbild. Grundlagen einer neuentstehenden deutschen Kultur (avec une introduction de Hermann Oncken), 2 vol., 1928; Lebendige Wissenschaft, 1937 (extraits de Das organische Weltbild, op. cit.); Der Weltsinn der Technik als Schlüssel zu ihrer Kulturbedeutung, 1932; Religion als Sinnerfüllung des Lebens. Ein Bekenntnis zur schöpferischen Weltheiligung, 1933; Der Glaubensweg des deutschen Menschen, 1934-35; Revolution des Geistes. Eine Einführung in die Schöpfungswelt organischen Denkens, 1935.

- Sur Paul von Krannhals: cf. Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932. Ein Handbuch, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1989 (3ième éd.).