"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Modern Evolutionary Tale - Darwin And The Success Of The Best And The Brightest

Eliza Newton had always been a precocious girl.  She was smart and savvy beyond her years, sexually mature at an unusually early age, and with an uncommonly perceptive and empathetic.  Even as a young child she seemed to understand others’ behavior better than even their parents or teachers.  She understood bullies, born cowards, weaklings, and social misfits before they were in third grade; and in each successive year, added to her lore of human behavior.

She could not articulate her conclusions – not because of any limitations of intelligence or fluency but only inexperience - and she could deconstruct the behavior of a bully into its component parts – anger, resentment, weakness, moral immaturity, and self-doubt – without naming them.  She instinctively understood coquettes for their emotional dependence, early sexual precocity, vanity, and limited social range.  She could sense self-confidence, leadership, and social grace and ability in boys. She saw talent before it fully was expressed; and felt the timidity and fear of the those who saw and interpreted what few others did.

Eliza’s perceptual maturity always preceded her own physical and emotional growth.  She was able to understand others better than herself, and until she was much older could never square her own feelings and impressions with those of others.  She was never really aware of her own precociousness, but then again, how could she? Without more years she could only assume that there were many like her who were merely stumbling, getting used to their sharp emotional vision like a pair of new glasses, but still unable to take the stairs two at a time.

It was not until she was a young pre-teenager, fully sexually mature at twelve, intellectually quick and able, and able to paint a complete, detailed emotional panorama of her classmates, parents, and adults that she began to realize that she could do something with this innate, inborn talent; and before long she was the center of her social circle, arbiter of fashion, taste, and boys, the favorite of teachers and sports instructors, and the pet of the principal.

In other words she had seduced her peers, her guardians, and her teachers.  At first she never looked at this growing coterie of admirers as a result of seduction – she had never done anything deliberate to gain friends, attract notice, or to stand out in any way – but she soon realized, because of the effortless way in which she was able to attract others, that she had a natural talent.  With more direction, ambition, and desire, she could have whatever she wanted.

This natural instinct, insight, and social talent plus a growing resolve and personal ambition was a unique and potent combination.   Because of her lack of vanity or selfishness – itself surprising in one of so many talents – she had no enemies and few competitors.  She did nothing to encourage jealousy or sexual envy.  The girls in her class assumed – naively as it would turn out – that she was a confidant and close friend who would never betray them.

By the time she had reached eighteen and was about to enter college, everything seemed to come together – her insight and vision; her ambition and sense of innate authority; and most importantly her ability to manipulate, manage, and organize people exactly to her measure.

Looked at more dispassionately, Eliza Newton was an evolutionary success; perfectly adapted to her environment and dominant within it.  She was a perfect example of Darwin’s principles, representing that randomly occurring evolutionary advantage which, if and when passed on to her offspring would result in an even more successful generation.

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Darwin never postulated the link between human evolutionary success and amorality, but the implication was always clear.  Nietzsche was his philosophical offspring, understanding that in a purposeless existence, survival counts for everything and morality for nothing.  The evolutionary victors are those who, like Eliza, have natural talent and ability; who act beyond the confines of morality to fully realize this ability; and have no compunctions whatever about so doing.

In today’s modern era, there are few people who fully accept their human nature as an innate force unchanged over millennia – aggressive, self-interested, protective, and ambitious.  Most believe that such nature is malleable, subject to progressive influences; and that positive change is a function of human investment, good will, and aspiration.

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History, of course, has shown just the opposite.  We differ very little from animals and have the same appetites, territorial ambitions, procreative behavior, and need for dominance.  Darwin closed the book on progressivism 160 years ago, yet enthusiasm for social reform and eventual utopia has not dimmed in all that time.

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All of which is to explain why Eliza Newton was an evolutionary advance.  Because of a random configuration of her genes, she was born with a positive mutation.  Her ability to see, understand, figure out, and manipulate others to her advantage was exactly as Darwin had predicted; and her Nietzschean amorality made her unstoppable.

Of course engaging in social Darwinism is sketchy at best.  One individual case does not enable a generalized social evolution.  However, as Darwin himself explained, all it takes is one small mutation to confer evolutionary advantage.  Eliza seemed to have benefited from many simultaneous mutations.  Brains, talent, insight, savvy, ambition, and strength all came together in one unique procreative event.

Neither of her parents had any of her abilities, ambition, or native philosophical determinism.  They were ordinary, upper middle class, happy, proud parents of a beautiful special daughter, and thought no more of it.  The genetic accident was just that - a recombination of long-lost and -forgotten family genes to produce a very successful mutation.

All the boys in every class were drawn to her.  Her pheromones were irresistible.  Unlike the coquettes of her age, she had sexual allure without any need for Can-Can.   There was no burlesque about her, no come-hithers, and no obvious seduction.  She was the sexual prize of the class but did nothing to win it. 

She, however, was far from diffident and neutral in choosing from among her suitors. She correctly and accurately sussed out insufficiency, inadequacy, and weakness and always ended up with the most potentially successful, ideal mate. 

If she found none acceptable, she did without.  There was no urgency at her age to mate with anyone. The goal she inherently understood was evolutionary success. 

She never gave feminism’s insistence on the power of the independent woman any space.  There was no point in acquiring, consolidating, and marshaling power without using it to evolutionary advantage.  Women throughout history, recorded in plays, novels, and poetry; and studied by sociologists, anthropologists, and biologists have always sought the best mate possible.  The best father for their children.  The best provider and protector; and their use of feminine power both innate and acquired was instrumental in this search.

Times have changed, and women are no longer under men’s economic and social dominion.  In the developed countries women have reached the highest offices in government and private enterprise.  Yet the evolutionary urge, regardless of the vehemence with which it is dismissed by feminists, is still as strong as ever.  Finding the right mate, and using every bit of unique feminine power to do so is no less relevant now than it ever was.

There may come a time when sexual equality is complete, and there is a perfect complementarity between masculinity and femininity.  No war between the sexes, no sexual competition, jealousy, or envy; but until that time, women – whose liberation from patriarchy and male thrall is only a few decades old – will still need to act like Shakespeare’s Rosalind, Beatrice, Kate, and Viola who used every canny, manipulative, and self-serving means to get their man.

So, until the coming of the new sexual millennium where evolutionary advantage will be mediated differently (genetic engineering, virtuality, and the reconfiguration of society), the Eliza Newtons will get the prize, pass on their genetic advantage to offspring procreated with equally successful males, and continue to be among the real One Percent of society.

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