(1) The aim of intergroup cooperative competition is to produce by variation and natural selection group genetic and cultural patterns with the highest survival potential in a changing and indifferent universe. Our purpose in this chapter has been to ask what the value of the various forms of possible group interaction is in relation to this goal and what regulations, if any, need to be developed by a world federation of nations to facilitate the best kinds of interactions.
(2) It is a popular error, notably in universalistic ethics or the common misunderstandings thereof, to assume that between-group ethical rules will prescribe the same behaviors as the within-group ethics do for individuals. The injunctions for (a) inter-individual behavior among citizens, (b) inter-group behavior, and (c) behavior among men at large, derive as an interlocking set of moral laws from the same basic goal, but distinctly differently, as a result of difference of situation. The primary law among groups is outright competition, which is secondarily modified by the groups in the world also being a community and requiring boundary conditions to be set up for the most effective outcome from competition.
(3) An instructive instance of the difference is that whereas mutual charity is the major law among individuals, outright transfer of gains from one group to another frustrates and confuses the feedback of proper reward to good cultural habits and genetic inventions. It thus constitutes not an equivalent of "charity" between individuals but a pernicious and evil interruption of group evolution. The highest inter-group morality calls for goodwill and fair play among groups in a plan of adventurous separate group experiment. These two systems of lawful behavior individual and group have to be matched by the development of two patterns of moral injunctions in the individual's thinking, ultimately consistent in goal, but adjusted respectively to individual and group behavior. Moreover, they must be integrated under a single individual conscience.
(4) Nations are in the process of generating new cultures and new races. The two are organically interconnected, in that all cultures may not fit naturally and without modification on all races. Nevertheless, there are good arguments for a group's initiating new developments independently in both fields genetic and cultural. For cultural innovations may lead to genetic innovations otherwise not directly conceivable, and vice versa. The latter experiment primarily at the level of planning genetic hybridization and inducing mutations is especially important. For without independent genetic experiment there is some danger of the genetic development merely conforming in a final equilibrium to the "cocoon" of its own culture. Although the disturbing outer challenges from other groups may prevent an arrest of evolution in such a virtual homeostatic equilibrium of cultural and genetic oscillations, the stimulus from introducing independent genetic innovations may be quite important.
(5) The ways in which the primary principles of competition and the secondary rules which adjust it to best action are to be built into an inter-group morality depends on the type of group involved. Groups need to be specifically defined here, psychologically. Social classes, religious congregations, professional "craft" groups, etc., do not meet the optimum requirements for units in a group evolutionary scheme as well as the self-conscious nations that have developed (to the number of more than a hundred) since the Renaissance.
The model of variation, natural selection, and fresh variation which sustains racio-cultural evolution in such groups takes up to a point the same form in the genetic and in the cultural fields. However, the laws of cultural mutation, borrowing, hybridization and differential survival are at the moment not nearly so well understood as those in the genetic field.
One important requirement which the model indicates in both domains is the need for a cycle of hybridization or culture borrowing, followed by isolation and inbreeding. The latter is needed to realize the potentialities of harmonious pattern formation from certain ingredients acquired by hybridization and mutation. Any evolutionary scheme has to cope with the fact that most mutations are "bad." But technical means may soon be developed for speeding up mutation, genetically and culturally, while avoiding a high percentage of adult failures by pre-natal detection, in the genetic case, and rapid objective social evaluation in the case of cultural experiments.
(6) This chapter proceeds on the above basis to examine the effectiveness and therefore the morality of the common historical forms of group interaction, in producing maximum evolutionary advance. These can be brought into a classification of five major processes: (1) transplantation from one group to another of (a) cultural practices, and (b) genetic strains, by a movement of people (the last means either invasion or permitted migration); (2) increase of political power and control ("imperialism"); (3) growth of wealth and population; (4) warfare, and (5) the development of intellectual-cultural ascendancies, and the exercise of psychological warfare.
Some seven primal conditions for evolution, as we shall henceforth call them, must be maintained throughout any of these interactions, as follows:
(a) The avoidance of a world monopoly of power and culture. In business, among competing corporations, it has been reliably generalized that complete laissez-faire tends to result in time in a reduction in the number of competitors, and, at least in the USA, precautions have accordingly been taken to draft laws preventing a complete monopoly. The number of automobile manufacturers, for example, fell from a one-time high of forty to the present figure of close to a dozen. However, it is not certain that reduction normally proceeds beyond a certain point, or that conditions could not be easily set up that would allow the defunct to be replaced by new-born entrants to the competition.
The monopoly danger is particularly great though the mode of interaction we call war. Force has tended to obliterate small countries no matter what their efficiency, if they make one small mistake in alliances. (Finland came near to being so obliterated by Russia, along with Lithuania, Estonia, etc., which were. The disappearance of Venice Savoy, Naples, etc., as kingdoms through Mazzini was viewed as a liberation from Austria, and thus worthy of liberal enthusiasm, and in this case a common language and closely related culture may justify the absorption.) But history has far more examples where war by an imperial power has gobbled up valuably different smaller experiments.
Fear of war, as well as war itself, favor coalescence in larger groups (often, however, federal). But this seems to be reversible, with return to separate cultures, as occurred to different degrees at the end of the Roman and British empires.
(b) The maintenance of the spirit of cooperative competition and diversity. Two dangers beset competition: (a) that implied in the old saying that competition can act like alcohol initially stimulating but finally bringing a brutish sameness. In short, it must not become a narrow, single track race, self-consciously aimed at one specific goal, but embrace a generous diversity of goals. For example, the fact that the human race has remained one interbreeding species makes this danger of "one track" a serious one in the eyes of a biologist. Muller, who gave way to no man in his concern that there should be "no place left for biases against races or social classes" nevertheless recognized that in regard to the future of human evolution, in relation to the hundreds of thousands of animal and insect species, "It has been intrinsically dangerous for him [man] to have so long existed as just one species" (1966). Rather than move toward coalescence, it is important for man culturally and genetically, to become increasingly divergent in his varieties, to the point where formation of distinct species occurs.
(c) That cooperative planning and recording is desirable. It has been suggested in introducing the factorial design of the "grand experiment" that the blundering, humanly-expensive experiments of history could be improved upon by deliberate planning. There is no doubt that by keeping groups at an optimum and more equal size, by planned diversification, and by other ways, results could be delivered more rapidly, without any interference by the rules of competition as such, as discussed in the planning of research institutions in Chapter 9.
In this area the notion of correlative competition is important. By this we mean essentially that group A, exploring in one direction, may find a valuable new cultural or genetic mutation x, while group B, in a reverse direction, finds a mutation y. These are advantageous enough to put A and B ahead of other groups, but they remain mutually equal in viability by different excellences. It is conceivable next that, unless total pattern effects forbid it, x and y could now be mutually borrowed. Enriched A and B would then start off at a still more advanced level in new divergencies. This we call "correlative" because it supposes a special correlation of effort in cooperative competition. Its limit is set by the distance of unrelatedness of the two groups.
(d) The avoidance of total genocide. In the interest of perspective one must insist that the danger of mutual annihilation in competition, or of total extinction of some genetic strain, has been much exaggerated in some current emotional discussions. However, in the frustration-pugnacity spiral discussed under (e) below, the danger of such attitudes developing as "Delenda est Carthago," or Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish problem," or Roosevelt's "total surrender or total destruction" is psychologically very real.
Now total disappearance of races and cultures is something that a rational ethics has to face as part of nature. Speaking of one of the periods of highest evolutionary effectiveness Haldane (1928) reminds us that "innumerable species, genera and families disappeared from the earth" and Darwin (1917), "The greater number of [past] species in each genus, and all the species in many genera, have left no descendants, but have become utterly extinct." (Biologists count that ninety-eight percent of the one hundred million species ever on Earth are now extinct.) Tennyson (1908) after ruminating that the death of the individual does not mean the death of the species, reflected yet again that to nature even the species is not immortal:
"So careful of the type?" but no,
From scarred cliff and quarried stone
She cries "A thousand types are gone.
I care for nothing, all shall go."
If the earth is not to be choked with the more primitive forerunners, a condition of birth of the new is the disappearance of the old. However, it is part of that cooperativeness
in competition that an emotional harmony with the total purpose should eliminate the barbarities and emotional misunderstandings which have constituted the brutality of expansion and contraction in past history. Newer and more humane methods must prevail. For the tragedy of the death of the individual is magnified in the death of a culture and a people.
Unfortunately, whenever a question of relative reduction of a population is concerned the word "genocide" is today being bandied about as a propaganda term. Nature constantly commits both homicide and genocide, and there is no question that both individuals and races are born to die. But at what point voluntary euthanasia by individuals or genthanasia by groups becomes appropriate is a difficult question. As regards animal species, we are today inclined, for aesthetic and scientific purposes, to make sanctuaries and reservations for species obviously heading for extinction, and still more extreme and scrupulous consideration is indicated before allowing a breed of humans however maladapted to become extinct. But it is realistically questionable in both cases how much space the more vital species will continue to allow for museum "storage." The maintenance of the status quo
cannot extend to making ninety-nine hundredths of the earth a living museum. Clarity of discussion on these solemn issues of rise and fall in culturo-racial groups would be aided if genocide
were reserved for a literal killing off of all members of a people, as in several instances in the Old Testament, and genthanasia
for what has above been called "phasing out," in which a moribund culture is ended, by educational and birth control measures, without a single member dying before his time.
(e) That degeneration of competition into pugnacity must be avoided.
In inter-group competition, as in any, if aggression is permitted, the instinctive tendency is to respond with counter-pugnacity, and one then sees a frustration-pugnacity
spiral. In some periods of history, notably in that from which Christ sought the escape of turning the other cheek, this can reach impossible levels of hatred, cruelty and destructiveness. Any competitive situation whatever has to be monitored, like a chemical reaction which has positive feedback upon itself, against this degeneration into pugnacity. The modern trend to reduce (socialistically) competition among individuals is likely, incidentally, to increase competition among groups. Not decrease of competition, but avoidance of degeneration into pugnacity, should be the aim of social research.
(f) That a humanity-dominated group environment must be avoided.
the condition needing attentive monitoring in (e) is actually a special case of certain more general problems that arise when groups begin to constitute too large a part of each other's environment, obscuring at the same time the basic importance of the competition of each group with nature. In these circumstances of a radically altered ecology it has been recognized since the time of Kropotkin (1902), that various cooperative and parasitic relations can develop among members such that they are no longer subject to selection on a "fair" basis as regards independent competence vis-ΰ-vis
the environment. As Hardin (1964) has well said, "The coexistence of species cannot find its explanation in their competitive equality." Indeed, it has obviously been a weak point in our "operational test" of fitness by the criterion of survival that certain lowly types have survived for an enormous time unchanged, e.g., the oyster, the brachiopod, the opossum and the antique New Zealand lizard (Sphenodon). That is why we did not accept this criterion alone. However, as one looks over the broad spectrum of zoological species, from man to amoeba, it is perfectly obvious that they are "equal" in surviving only as long as each has the advantage of its particular ecological niche or geographical isolation or adapted source of nutrition. Put them out in the open arena, and demand that quality of "adaptation to a broader environment" which has been our additional touchstone of evolutionary advance (Section 3.4), and one will find decided inequalities in survival. There is nothing wrong with evaluating evolutionary level by survival and "efficiency," provided the test is applied in a sufficiently broad environment.
(g) Doubts in trusting competition arise when direct inter-group competition begins to account for most "points" in survival. A more subtle difficulty than any faced in the first six processes and conditions above then arises in that a group of groups, in a restricted environment such as the earth, may provide an inadequate testing ground. Any misunderstanding of the purpose and conditions of inter-group competition by this community of nations could set up conditions of inter-group dependency, and striving for artificial, community-approved goals ("best fitted for this company") that would either distort or invalidate the whole experiment.
In summary, there appear some seven limits within the boundaries of which inter-group competition needs to operate if the best conditions for evolution on Earth are to be maintained. Before any regulation by a federated group of nations can be safely put into effect, however, intensive research is needed on the full effect of these and other boundary conditions.
(7) An examination has next been made of the specific virtues and possible malfunctions of each of the five principal modes of group competitive interaction that have long been in operation. Cultural and genetic transfer
from group to group (borrowing, propaganda, migration) probably contribute effectively
to evolution only under certain conditions. When groups, for example, borrow simply what is admired, it may turn out to be actually deleterious. On the other hand, relative population gains
(with economic level maintained or increased) lead to group interactions favorable to a higher survival potential for the group concerned, e.g., through political influence, stimulation of mutations, survival of major catastrophes.
(8) Although imperialism has slyly become a term of reprimand, the political and territorial expansion of groups has in the past probably been the most rapid and unadulterated of aids to the supersession of culturally and genetically inadequate groups, and to a general evolutionary forward movement. No sound morality of group interaction can take as its goal the maintenance of the status quo
; but new conditions and rules for a justice of expansion and contraction remain to be worked out by social science.
(9) Any discussion of the complex role which war has played in the evolution of cultures is difficult because of our intense emotional reactions to it. The central problem in connection with avoiding war is that of keeping competition at a higher level without relapse into what is a degenerative pugnacity, and also in finding alternative expressions for emotional frustration. Contrary to the simpleminded stereotype which contrasts the level of civilization-(vs-"barbarism") of a country with its proneness to war there is a positive correlation of cultural pressure with frequency of involvement in war, and of level of advance in education and technology with military success. Innovations are suggested which, by performing certain functions which war now has, would have the best chance of eliminating it. War has the dysfunction of diverting development from the conquest of nature, but at the same time it may keep communities braced and adaptive through periods when nature offers no inexorable challenge. However, it counts size above quality and has the constant danger of leading to a monopoly, by conquest. A sudden and complete cessation of the social habits ending in war, which persisted over millennia, is unlikely, but development of federated groups is likely to phase war out.
(10) The survival value of intellectual culture ("civilization") as such is hard to see, and it is often disputed that it has any "practical" biological value for group life. The practical survival value of the scientific half of culture is unquestionable; but psychological analyses also suggest real survival value, both vis-ΰ-vis
nature and in rivalry with other groups, from intellectual development in the arts in literature, music, art and drama. This resides in their assistance in emotional adjustment to a complex culture, in developing loyalties expressly to the culture, in guiding emotional learning, and in creating attractiveness and status for the group.
(11) Psychological warfare, as a special, deliberate and self-seeking form of cultural interference in another group, is repugnant to the scientist in that it aims to go beyond logical argument and use all manner of deception and emotional persuasions. In this, however, it is no different from advocacy at law and from partisan politics. As between groups at least, it makes for the relative success of the more intelligent and disciplined in thinking, though it may deceive both
victim in time. The design we call a democracy is here at a disadvantage, for in a dictatorship or oligargic elite, persuasion is examined critically by a magisterium of trained minds, and the average man is shielded from anything but the consistent picture they give him, whereas in an open democracy the average man is more vulnerable to the Machiavellian arts of psychological warfare. However, this has the advantage of producing higher levels of intelligence and emotional education in the general population in democracies that survive
. A model that should not be overlooked in obtaining better understanding of the evolution-generating action of psychological warfare is that of the bacteriophages, which, as Delbrόck showed, are parasitic viruses that invade the host and supplant its genetic code with their own, thus using its initial energy resources for a totally different culture. Definite analogies to this exist in business competition and in attempts by rationalist intellectuals directly to capture, for extreme, doctrinaire positions, groups of positive viability derived from experience, e.g., the Eisner take-over of the Bavarian government in 1919.
(12) The above processes of group interaction as they have existed since historical records began seem to our examination to be on the whole positively functional for the goal of evolving higher types of group. However, organization to bring scientific mid-wifery to bear on the process is now called for because (a) the "factorial" design could be better applied, and extensive record keeping and analysis would reduce trial and error waste in discovering the promising directions of progress; (b) not all existing procedures especially those of culture borrowing and migration are as substantially effective as they could be. Finally, most have degenerative forms needing to be avoided notably in warfare and some forms of psychological warfare which threaten to deny the required primal
conditions (avoidance of world monopoly, etc.) necessary for evolution; (c) with the approaching crowding of the earth there is risk of conditions arising in which man constitutes too much of his own immediate environment for him to react to the realities of nature.
Unless new steps are taken this will tend to result (i) in directions of advance more concerned with adjusting to other group pressures than conquering nature, and (ii) in excessive imitation, uniformity, and failure to branch out into more divergent cultural and genetic types. Here we note that so long as man remains a single species he is vulnerable to any single noxious influence that might destroy a species; (d) also a risk arises that self-conscious man will deliberately, for his own ease, seek to arrest the natural selection process. This issue is scrutinized in the next chapter. Meanwhile, since the group natural selection process is one on which all else hinges notably the derivation of within-group, inter-individual morality it needs a volume of study that would make this chapter seem a mere trickling headstream to a Niagara of new knowledge.
Back to Table of Contents