From natural selection to masters of the universe (or bust)!

Some quotes from Tim Flannery “Now or Never – a sustainable future fro Australia.” Quarterly Essay Issue 31 2009 pp 6-7.

“Evolution through natural selection is a blind process whose only tools are variation (within populations) and death (of the less well-adapted). That is why Richard Dawkins likened its workings to that of a “blind watchmaker’. But now, after 4 billion years, the evolutionary process has thrown up a potentially powerful and swiftly responsive command-and-control system that may serve Gaia as a whole. That system is our own human intelligence and self-awareness. It is my belief that we humans are poised to become, from now on, the means by which Gaia will regulate at least some of its essential processes.”

“Gaia’s potential for intelligent control is exceedingly recent; it arose abruptly towards the end of the twentieth century, after humans had plumbed the depths of the oceans, revealed Earth’s internal structure an her history, and photographed her from outer space.”

“By the twenty-first century the achievements of these pioneers had opened the way to a limited understanding of how Earth works.”

“Within the lifetimes of many people reading this essay, Gaia will pass from an unconscious to a conscious means of control after 4 billion years of self-regulation. Either that or we will fail to achieve sustainability, and Gaia’s newly attainted consciousness – which is made possible by our global civilisation – will vanish, perhaps to be lost forever.”


There seems to be a tremendous arrogance in this view – both a Eurocentric cultural arrogance which is dismissive of what other peoples may have already achieved over long times and a professional deformation which expropriates the strategic heights to members of a cult of ‘science’ – seeking, indeed, the elevate them from their present limited privileged positions of a secular priestly class  into some kind of new global saviours and governors.

There is another very different view of the role of people and cultures in life.

And that is the view that life regulates itself – life governs itself.

The role of people is to serve merely as a means by which messages, which originate ‘outside’ of humanity, are relayed back into the rest of life.

In this different view the emphasis is not on a human-centred control trip (doomed to fail) but on being able to relate our Being to our Cosmos.

What is required for these messages to flow are the metaphors which make up an enabling culture.

And for a better understanding of that, we do not look to modern scientists, but to the Ways of Australia’s First Peoples.

These Ways groomed living country for eternity.

These First Ways achieved a sustainable present and future for Australia long before Europeans arrived, proclaiming – oh what a surprise – the country on this side of the planet was really a part of the mismanaged kingdom of George III of England.

Suppression of First Peoples Ways by ‘civilised’ new masters has been accompanied by life running amok – while gentlemen farmers ‘governed’ in Westminster cult houses.

We can no longer afford to humour these pretences – nor to sacrifice that which is of real value.

As for modern Western masters – given the condition of Australian life and other parts of their world – apologies,  resignations and reparations are more in order than self-promotion to key positions in life.


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