I am often dismayed by the state of humanity in our society. I get misanthropic and find it all too easy to isolate myself in an educated middle class ghetto to avoid the stupid, desperate, self destructive, loser, junkie masses. Why is the ‘lower socio-economic’ demographic like it is in western liberal democratic societies when there is so much wealth and so many opportunities?
The conclusion I come to is that an increasing number of people now belong to an underclass that is unwilling or unable to function within our complex information economy. The world of middle class urbanity is not a natural or easy environment to navigate. There are endless rules, values and expectations to negotiate. I suspect that an increasing number of people simply don’t have the intellectual capacity or the aspiration to survive in this environment.
Social Darwinism provides many insights to this topic. I argue that the information economy environment in which we live is vastly more sophisticated and complicated than the industrial environment of previous generations. It may be that the complexity of this environment exceeds the mental capacity of many people.
The working class of the early industrial era (the nineteenth century) was hugely aspirational: fighting for education, social equality, the right to vote, fair and safe employment conditions and health care. There was little social security: the prevailing environmental factor was work to live. Starvation was real. Learning boosted employment opportunities and was thus highly valued.
In contrast, survival in a Darwinian sense in contemporary society is all too easy: starvation in Australian cities is rare. The prevailing environmental condition is abundance of food, clothing and shelter, even if this is found by squatting and scavenging, such as by freegans. With free health care, and many social supports networks, including charities, it is very difficult to die for want of food, clothing and shelter.
A recent article on white Eurotrash is particularly telling. It argues that the current working class has lost all aspiration and is now completely anti-education and anti-intellectual. Survival is now so easy that anyone can do it, even those who would have died in earlier ages due to a lack of participation in the workforce and economy. A major cause of death, apart from cancer (itself more common due to increased longevity due to abundance), is basically stupidity: smoking, drinking, eating too much junk food, car crashes and drug abuse. Read more about inequalities and health.
What no politicial or academic seems capable of suggesting is that the obvious inequalities and variations between people genetically, biologically and socially include variations in intelligence. This has nothing to do with race or gender; within a single racial group (such as the white majority in urban Australia) huge variations in intelligence result in many social phenomena: some people go the art gallery and some watch reality television.
There is much confusion in research about inequality and socio-economic status. Cause and effect seem often muddled. No one wants to acknowledge that one reason why more working class or lower socio-economic people smoke, don’t wear seat belts, become drug addicts and engage in diverse self-destructive behaviours is because they are not intelligent and disciplined enough to behave in long term positive and strategic ways. These are generalisations but they do exhibit truth.
These people are not disfunctional or disadvantaged because they are poor. They are poor, disadvantaged and disfunctional because they are generally stupid and incapable of making the most of their opportunities. 100 years ago, given the limited choice between hard labour or destitution, they mostly worked hard and lived uncomplicated lives. Now, they can chose to live on unemployment benefits for life, and in the process they become so socially disfunctional that they then qualify for disability pensions. This is not genuine disability. This is laziness and in an evolutionary sense, it is negative adaptation.
Our society is so generous that human parasites are multiplying. They give nothing but take a lot. On a parallel tangent, our society is also so soft that it allows serial sexual predators to live amongst us, rather than purging them for the safety of the majority. Our society is in danger of collapsing on its own wealth and benevolence. We are rotting from within. I think this is unsustainable. One day there will not be enough educated productive people paying tax to support this excessive benevolence, and there will be a collapse in living standards for all.
Collapse theory is relevant here. The negative adaption that western society demonstrates can be interpreted as a form of self-destruction. The barbarians are at the gates of our high security apartments, and they want our plasma televisions. They just don’t want to work in order to pay for them. Our society faces a massive problem in how to manage this underclass, which is not only unproductive but also hugely expensive to maintain in terms of welfare payments and crime prevention.