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

Friday, August 24, 2018

Interbreeding–Lessons From A Hybrid Neanderthal Girl

A remarkable discovery in a Siberian cave is confirming scientists’ belief that more than 50,000 years ago, interbreeding among the ancient human species might have been common.

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Leonard Bernstein wrote these unforgettable lyrics in his Broadway show West Side Story:

A boy like that
Who'd kill your brother
Forget that boy
And find another
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind
A boy like that
Will give you sorrow
You'll meet another boy tomorrow
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind

“Stick to your own kind” is her refrain. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble.  Of course Maria does not listen, bad turns to worse, and the final scene is a melodramatic replay of the end of the star-crossed lovers.

We live in an age of diversity and inclusivity where Interracial, inter-ethnic, and inter-cultural relationships are promoted as a sign of woken modernity.  Old, stale notions of privilege are things of the past as are the institutional traditions which embodied and expressed their authority.  This cultural progressivism has influenced education, politics, religion, and the arts.  There is something suspect about received wisdom, Biblical inerrancy, or artistic canons.  Deconstructionism and postmodernism have provided the intellectual basis for social reform.  All texts are equivalent from Joyce and Faulkner to automotive manuals. The idea of individual genius, personal insight, and unique perspective has been discredited.  Only collective, populist wisdom has any salience or relevance.  The Smithsonian Institution is sponsoring a conference on the democratization of portraiture – how the new photographic imagery of social media is the new artistic standard.  Gone should be the formality of Gilbert Stuart, Whistler, or Sargent; to be replaced by instantaneous capture, more reflective of zeitgeist, social dynamics, and era than anything in the past.  The old standards of form, line, color and most importantly individual insight should be set aside.  There is no such thing as ‘art’, say postmodernists, no value in individual artistic enterprise, no worth in classicism.

Yet this hyper-democratic populism has no precedent; and except for those who reject history itself, the lesson is clear.  The aggregation of artistic genius sponsored by aristocratic nobility has been the rule not the exception.  The cultural Renaissance was made possible by the emergence of artistic genius supported by a ruling class confident of its authority, its values, and its responsibility. There would be no Michelangelo, Bernini, or Tiepolo without their wealthy, committed, and inspired patrons.

It made no sense for anyone within this socio-cultural orbit to push the perimeter, to expand perception and consciousness into the people, the peasants, the ruled.  The aristocracy was the locus of practicality and creativity. This ‘inbred’ community of social, political, and economic power enabled the greatest expansion of knowledge,art, and science the world had ever known.  There was no need for inclusivity in the Renaissance.  There was enough well-bred and -nurtured intelligence to go around.  While no empire has ever survived, each successive imperial regime has repeated the successes of the past; and each understood the importance of retaining and preserving intellectual elites.

Of course no empire has ever lasted; and despite the 2000-year reign of the Catholic Church, the 1000-reigns of Rome and the important but less long-lived regimes of Greece, Persepolis, and the Mauryas, they all ended; either corrupted from within or defeated from without, they had had their day.

Nevertheless the culture of exclusivity remained; and while modern societies may have admitted the contributions of the best of those ruled, they remained exclusive. Rule, cultural influence, and longevity depended on the integrity of the ruling class.  ‘Interbreeding’ was tolerated as long as those admitted within the cultural family were worthy.  The Egyptian dynasties did indeed include some talented Nubians, but there were no policies – as there are today - to, ipso facto, accept their general cultural worthiness.  Cultural interbreeding was highly selective; and those to be socially engaged had to prove their own particular and extraordinary extra-cultural worth.

For all the modern hyperbole about final integration, the truly democratic post-modern society, the rule of inclusivity and populism, the fundamental architecture of society will never change.  While American society, now in the throes of progressive, post-modern revolution, will necessarily include a priori those from the ruled rather than the ruling, it will eventually revert to the norm.  While those who rule may be of different race, gender, and ethnicity of the ruling classes that preceded them, they will be no different from them.  Canons, theologies, and governing principles will all be determined by those in power.  Progressive democracy might have expanded the gene pool, but those in charge will always select those who best reflect their interest, purpose, principles, and vision.

Intelligence, ambition, desire, self-interest, and venal purpose have always been the hallmarks of the ruling class; but things have changed. In America rule, power, and authority – the hallmarks of governance and secular authority – have no cultural depth.  We have no Michelangelo. Chartres, or Mohenjo-Daro; no Medieval, Renaissance, or Baroque; no Moliere, Goethe, or Catullus.   We are power unto ourselves.

That is, although American society is changing ; and while the patriarchal, inbred, privileged classism that has characterized it for generations may be a thing of the past, little substantial is in line to replace it.  We are and always have been a culture of process; but laws, litigation, and legal procedure cannot replace fundamental cultural values.  We have no Roncesvalles.  We are not, like the French, the ordained eldest daughter of the Catholic Church, charged with a divine and social responsibility.  We were borne of liberty, but without an enduring  ethos, a true , substantive, cultural center, we are nothing but an uninvited third cousin to cultural history.

Inbreeding – or to use a more appropriate and acceptable term, cultural integration – is a double-edged sword.  It is important for the refreshment of genetics and society. Hermetic, inbred families and cultures alike have failed; but assumptive reliance on cross-cultural reference per se is equally wrong-headed.  There is no absolute value in such such heterogeneity; and regardless of eventual social composition, elites, the privileged, and the authoritarian will always emerge.  Better to let the cultural market determine who is in and who is out rather than to accept an  engineered ‘equality’ and ‘democratic representation’.

The Neanderthals had no choice.  Interbreeding was common because of circumstance.  Better to mate with a half-breed or another breed if such congress made economic sense.  Subsequent generations with more mobility, opportunity, and choice decided differently; but certain givens have remained.  ‘Stick to your own kind’, consolidate strengths, reject ‘the other’ unless he brings value to the cultural table, and rule accordingly.

We in America are culturally afloat – genetically predisposed to cultural preservation and to the principles of cultural elitism; but politically persuaded that multiculturalism offers the best and most promising advance to a better, less polarized world.  What to do?

The rejection of historical cultural values represents an ignorance of history but more importantly a rejection of human nature.  Religious,philosophical,and cultural elitism have been history’s ways of assuring moral solidarity, human cultural supremacy and legitimate social longevity.

Inter-breeding, i.e. radical cultural inclusivity,has no future; and if the truth be known, has never had a past.

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