Darwin’s Look into The Next Million Years


Brent Jessop
IntelStrike
March 3, 2008

Charles Galton Darwin’s 1952 book The Next Million Years [1] attempts to give a general outline of the “future history” of mankind by using the “law of human nature”. C.G. Darwin (1887-1962) was an English physicist and grandson of Charles Darwin of evolutionary fame. Despite being concerned about the over-population of the world he had four sons and one daughter with his wife Katharine Pember. The hypocrisy of this may seem odd, but the concern about over-population only refers to inferior breeds of humans and not superior breeds like himself and his lineage. C.G. Darwin was a long time member and eventual president of the Eugenic Society (1953-59) which represented the belief system held among many of the political, scientific and aristocratic elites of his day and the present.

Why the Next Million Years?

This article will examine some of C.G. Darwin’s views of what the next million years of mankind’s future history will look like. But first, why such a enormous length of a million years of future history?

From The Next Million Years:

“… in the evolution of life, how long does it take to make a new species? The answer is a million years. That is the reason for the title I have chosen for this essay – for a million years to come we have got to put up with all the defects in man’s nature as it is now.” – 78

The Laws of Human Nature

“Nevertheless for all of us it is intolerable to think of the future unfolding itself in complete predestined inevitability for the eternity of a million years. There are two things we must do; one is to know, the other to act. As to knowing, in my introductory chapter I described an analogy in mechanics, and I suggested that it should be possible to discover a set of laws, like the laws of thermodynamics, which would place absolute limits on what can be done by humanity. Biological laws cannot be expected to have the same hard outline as physical laws, but still there are absolute laws limiting what an animal can do, and similar laws will limit man not only on his physical side, but also on his intellectual side. If these could be clearly stated, we should recognize that many attempts that have been made at improving man’s estate were hopeless.

It is for others, better versed than I am in the biological sciences, to work out these laws, and it is in all humility that I put forward the basis, on which, it may be, that they could be founded. The first principle is that man, as an animal, obeys the law of variation of species, which condemns human nature to stay nearly constant for a million years. The perfectibility of mankind, the aim of so many noble spirits, is foredoomed by this principle. The second is that man is a wild animal, and that doctrines drawn from the observation of domestic animals are quite inapplicable to him. The third principle is the non-inheritance of acquired characters, a principle familiar in animal biology, but all too seldom invoked in connection with human beings. If these, and any further principles as well, or any alternatives to them, were accepted, it might sometimes be possible through them to show up the absurdities of bad statesmanship, and certainly it would be the part of a wise statesman to work within their limitations, because only so could he hope to achieve success.” [emphasis mine] – 206

“A history of the future is different from a history of the past, because it cannot in any sense be a narrative. It cannot say what will happen in anything like the same manner as past history says what did happen. All it can do is to say what things will be happening most of the time and in most places, but without being able to specify those times and those places. This it does through consideration of the laws of nature, chief among which is the law of human nature.” [emphasis mine] – 167

The Need to Change Human Nature

As a avid eugenicist, C. G. Darwin believed “improvements” in the human species could only come about through the changing of mankind’s hereditary nature.

But there is also the possibility of an internal revolution. This would come about if means were discovered of deliberately altering human nature itself… here it must suffice to say that the prospects do not seem at all good. There is first the extreme difficulty of making such changes, and the probability that most of them would be for the worse, and secondly, if by chance a revolutionary improvement should arise, it seems all too likely that the rest of mankind would not tolerate the supermen and would destroy them before ever they had the time to multiply. It is mainly the belief that there will be no revolutionary change in human nature that emboldened me to write this essay.” [emphasis mine] – 56

“Still for the sake of the distant future something can be attempted more profitable than has been usual hitherto. Attempts at improving the lot of mankind have all hitherto been directed toward improving his conditions, but not his nature, and as soon as the conditions lapse all is lost. The only hope is to use our knowledge of biology in such a way that all would not be lost with the lapse of the conditions. The principles of heredity offer an anchor which will permanently fix any gains that there may be in the quality of mankind.” [emphasis mine] – 208

“If the history of the future is not regarded as the automatic unfolding of a sequence of uncontrollable events – and few, of us would accept this inevitability – then anyone who has decided what measures are desirable for the permanent betterment of his fellows will naturally have to consider what is the best method of carrying his policy through. There are three levels at which he might work. The first and weakest is by direct conscious political action; his policy is likely to die with him and so to be ineffective. The second is by the creation of a creed, since this has the prospect of lasting for quite a number of generations, so that there is some prospect of really changing the world a little with it. The third would be by directly changing man’s nature, working through the laws of biological heredity, and if this could be done for long enough it would be really effective. But even if we knew all about man’s genes, which we certainly do not, a policy of this kind would be almost impossible to enforce even for a short time, and, since it would take many generations to carry it through, it would almost certainly be dropped long before any perceptive effects were achieved.” [emphasis in original] – 114

The Structure and Function of Government

What will the future structure and function of government be during the next million years?

“If transportation is easy, world conquest will be easier both for military reasons and because the more uniform culture should make the world government more acceptable.” [emphasis mine] – 193

“Widespread wealth can never be common in an overcrowded world, and so in most countries of the future the government will inevitably be autocratic or oligarchic; some will give good government and some bad, and the goodness or badness will depend much more on the personal merits of the rulers than it does in a more democratic country.” – 194

“Whatever forms the government may take, there can be little doubt that the world will spontaneously divide itself into what I shall call provinces, that is to say regions, though with no permanently fixed boundaries, which possess some homogeneity of climate, character and interests. I use the same word whether the different provinces are federated together, or whether they are what we should now call separate sovereign states. How large will these provinces tend to be? That will depend on the means of communication and transport, and so once again there arises the question of whether the fuel problem is solved wholly or partially or not at all. In the past the chief means of communication was the horse, and the countries of Europe are still mostly of a size adopted to suit this almost extinct means of transport, though some of the more newly formed ones do show a trace of the influence of the railway. None of them are really of a size suited to the motor-car or the aeroplane, or to present power production, whether by coal or water-power, which cuts right across the national boundaries.

If the fuel problem is solved completely, so that mechanical power and transportation is available in the future to a greater extent even than at present, then the provinces will be large; for example, the whole of Europe may well be one, and the whole of North America another…

Consider next what are likely to be usual relations between the provinces. It is too much to expect that there can ever be a permanent world government benevolently treating all of them on a perfect equality; such an institution could only work during the rare occasions of a world-wide golden age. To think of it as possible at other times is a misunderstanding of the function of government in any practical sense of the term. If the only things that a government was required to do were what everybody, or nearly everybody, wanted, there would be no need for the government to exist at all, because the things would be done anyhow; this would be the impracticable ideal of the anarchist. But if there are to be starving margins of population in most parts of the world, mere benevolence cannot suffice. There would inevitably be ill feeling and jealousy between the provinces, with each believing that it was not getting its fair share of the good things, and in fact, it would be like the state of affairs with which we are all too familiar. If then there is ever to be a world government, it will have to function as government do now, in the sense that it will have to coerce a minority – and indeed it may often be a majority – into doing things they do not want to do.” [emphasis mine] – 191

Civilization and a Universal Culture of Science

“Civilization might, loosely speaking, be counted as a sort of domestication, in that it imposes on man conditions not at all typical of wild life.” – 115

“Civilization has taught man how to live in dense crowds, and by that very fact those crowds are likely ultimately to constitute a majority of the world’s population. Already there are many who prefer this crowded life, but there are others who do not, and these will gradually be eliminated. Life in the crowded conditions of cities has many unattractive features, but in the long run these may be overcome, not so much by altering them, but simply by changing the human race into liking them.” [emphasis mine] – 99

“To conclude, I have cited the past history of China as furnishing the type of an enduring civilization. It seems to provide a model to which the future history of the world may be expected broadly to conform. The scale will of course be altogether vaster, and the variety of happenings cannot by any means be foreseen, but I believe that the underlying ground theme can be foreseen and that in a general way it will be rather like the history of the Chinese Empire. The regions of the world most of the time will be competing against one another. Occasionally – more rarely, than has been the case in China – they will be united by some strong arm into an uneasy world-government, which will endure for a period until it falls by the inevitable decay that finally destroys all dynasties. There will be periods when some of the provinces relapse into barbarism, but all the time civilization will survive in some of them. It will survive because it will be based on a single universal culture, derived from the understanding of science; for it is only through this understanding that the multitudes can continue to live. On this basic culture there will be overlaid other cultures, often possessing a greater emotional appeal, which will vary according to climate and race from one province to another. Most of the time and over most of the earth there will be severe pressure from excess populations, and there will be periodic famines. There will be a consequent callousness about the value of the individual’s life, and often there will be cruelty to a degree of which we do not willingly think. This however is only one side of the history. On the other side there will be vast stores of learning, far beyond anything we can now imagine, and the intellectual stature of man will rise to ever higher levels. And sometimes new discoveries will for a time relieve the human race from its fears, and there will be golden ages, when man may for a time be free to create wonderful flowerings in science, philosophy and the arts.” [emphasis mine] – 203

Globalization Leads to Slavery

“As to the less successful members, the standard of living of any community living on its real earnings, as the communities of the future will have to do, is inevitably lower than that of one rapidly spending the savings of hundreds of millions of years as we are doing now. There will also be the frequent threat of starvation, which will operate against the least efficient members of every community with special force, so that it may be expected that the conditions of their work will be much more severe than at present. Even now we see that a low standard of living in one country has the advantage in competing against a high standard in another. If there is work to be done, and, of two men of equal quality, one is willing to do it for less pay than the other, in the long run it will be he who gets the work to do. Those who find the bad conditions supportable will be willing to work harder and for less reward; in a broad sense of the term they are more efficient than the others, because they get more done for less pay. There are of course many exceptions, for real skill will get its reward, but in the long run it is inevitable that the lower types of labour will have an exceedingly precarious life. One of the triumphs of our own golden age has been that slavery has been abolished over a great part of the earth. It is difficult to see how this condition can be maintained in the hard world of the future with its starving margins, and it is too be feared that all too often a fraction of humanity will have to live in a state which, whatever it may be called, will be indistinguishable from slavery.” [emphasis mine] – 189

Computers To Predict the Near Future

“I am imagining that some new discovery should make the process far more precise for short-term planning. This might come about, for example, through the use of new high-speed counting machines, which in a short space of time might explore the consequences of alternative policies with a completeness that is far beyond anything that the human mind can aspire to achieve directly.” – 55

A program currently underway at the Pentagon called the Sentient World Simulation attempts to do just that. From an article by Mark Baard:

“U.S defense, intel and homeland security officials are constructing a parallel world, on a computer, which the agencies will use to test propaganda messages and military strategies.”

“Called the Sentient World Simulation, the program uses AI routines based upon the psychological theories of Marty Seligman, among others. (Seligman introduced the theory of “learned helplessness” in the 1960s, after shocking beagles until they cowered, urinating, on the bottom of their cages.)”

“Yank a country’s water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next.”

“The sim will feature an AR avatar for each person in the real world, based upon data collected about us from government records and the internet.”

Conclusion

The next part in this series will examine C. G. Darwin’s views on the possibility of domesticating the whole of mankind. Part 3 will look into the importance of creeds on the future history of mankind. The second last part in this series will examine C. G. Darwin’s emphasis on the desirability of eugenics and ways of perpetuating “superior” genes in future generations. Finally, I will examine the difficulties in controlling the size of the world population as described in The Next Million Years.

[1] Quotes from Charles Galton Darwin, The Next Million Years (1952).

Note: I first heard about this book from talks given by Alan Watt at Cutting Through The Matrix.com, an individual well worth looking into.

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Related Articles

The Next Million Years Part 2: Can Mankind be Domesticated? (March 10)

The Next Million Years Part 3: The Importance of Creeds in Shaping the Future (March 17)

The Next Million Years Part 4: Eugenics and the Survival of Mankind (March 24)

The Next Million Years Part 5: Over-Population and the Sanctity of Life (March 31)

More articles by Brent Jessop can be found at his site Knowledge Driven Revolution.com


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