Reproduced from The Spectator Australia
In a recent article, and subsequent interviews with Alan Jones and Graham Richardson, I summarised that ‘eucalypts are incinerators from hell dressed up as trees’ and said we have to consider replacing some of our eucalypt forests with non-fire-adapted species—which is already happening overseas, as Rebecca Weisser reported, ‘In Portugal and Spain they are starting to cut down the eucalypt forests, saying “These are too dangerous, we don’t want them”’.
But not everyone is interested in a rational analysis—as Jones said, ‘After the Canberra fires, Jon Stanhope, the Chief Minister for the ACT, said we’ve got to stop planting native plants because they’re fire traps. Well, that was the end of Jon Stanhope—“don’t express such anti-religious views around here”!’.
So the management of our forests comes down to how to combat the irrational ‘religious’ fanaticism of tree-hugging Lefties. Indeed, everywhere we look in the world we are faced with this problem of ‘how to combat the irrationality of the increasingly rabid Marxist, politically correct (PC) culture?’
Well, if honest biological thinking was able to get to the bottom of the problem of eucalypts—‘tell the story that’s never, ever been told’, as Jones said—might such thinking also be able to finally solve the problem of the madness of the Left? I believe it can.
When Jones, like many others, use the term ‘religion’ to describe the culture of the PC Left, they are intimating an underlying truth, which is that when we humans take up a cause that makes us feel good it can bring such astronomical relief to the extreme insecurity caused by our species’ tortured, ‘good and evil’-stricken so-called human condition that our attachment to that cause becomes more precious to us than any rational argument Plato, Darwin and Einstein combined could put to us!
The psychologist Jordan Peterson was recognising this in his response on Q&A last year to being asked about people’s attachment to climatism when he said, ‘People have things within their personal purview [scope of experience] that are difficult to deal with and that they’re avoiding and generally the way they avoid them is by adopting pseudo-moralistic stances on large-scale social issues, so they look good to their friends and neighbours’.
So it’s relief from the human condition at all costs that is really going on. The human condition is the real issue—and since the human condition has been the focus of my work as a biologist for 50 years, I would like to contribute the following insights.
Firstly, to describe what the human condition actually is.
The scientist Blaise Pascal spelt out the true horror of our species’ contradictory nature or condition when he wrote, ‘What a chimaera [multi-faceted being] then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth, repository of truth, a sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe!’ Shakespeare was equally revealing of the paradoxical nature of the human condition when he wrote, ‘What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!… In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.’
This extraordinary dichotomy that Pascal and Shakespeare have written about is what the human condition is. We humans embody this extreme ‘contradiction’ of being the most brilliantly clever of creatures, the ones who are ‘god’-‘like’ in our ‘infinite’ ‘faculty’ of ‘reason’ and ‘apprehension’, and yet we also behave in the seemingly completely unclever ‘monster[ous]’, ‘imbecile worm of the earth’, ‘sewer of uncertainty and error’, ‘scum of the universe’ ‘quintessence of dust’ way. Not only are we competitive, aggressive and selfish when the ideals of life are so obviously to be cooperative, loving and selfless, we are actually the meanest, most vicious of species, one that is only too capable of inflicting pain, cruelty, suffering and degradation.
And trying to face the truth of the extent of our contradictory nature while we couldn’t explain it has been absolutely unbearable. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung said about trying to confront our seemingly ‘monster[ous]’, ‘scum of the universe’ condition: ‘When it [our shadow] appears…it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil’!
Yes, the comedian Rod Quantock wasn’t joking when he said that ‘Thinking can get you into terrible downwards spirals of doubt.’ Albert Camus wasn’t overstating the problem either when he wrote that ‘Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined’; and nor was T.S. Eliot when he wrote that ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality’.
So it’s no wonder that finding a cause that makes us feel good about ourselves can bring us astronomical relief even though such escapism comes at the expense of rational, sensible, truthful thinking! But that’s the fundamental challenge of being a human—resisting that temptation and continuing humanity’s heroic journey to find knowledge, ultimately self-knowledge, the reconciling understanding of our seemingly flawed human condition that is actually the only thing that will end the insecurity of that condition and bring about a genuinely peaceful, loving world. As the historian Jacob Bronowski summarised at the end of his acclaimed 1970s television series The Ascent of Man, ‘Knowledge is our destiny. Self-knowledge, at last bringing together the [human-condition-describing] experience of the arts and the explanations of science, waits ahead of us.’
So that is the first left-wing-culture-destroying clarification that understanding the human condition enables—that while the right-wing has continued humanity’s heroic quest for understanding, the Left has given in to the temptation of relief-hunting and abandoned that all-important search.
The second clarification is even more serious, if that were possible—which is that the Left have not only given up the search for understanding, they are actively working against the finding of it. This is because their favoured feel-good cause of dogmatically insisting that everyone comply with PC, Marxist cooperative and selfless principles oppresses the freedom of expression needed to find knowledge, ultimately the understanding of ourselves that alone can end our insecure condition and actually bring about a cooperative and loving world.
Karl Marx was so wrong when he wrote that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is [not to understand the world but] to change it’. By ‘change it’ Marx meant just impose cooperative or social or communal behaviour on the world, but he was wrong because the whole ‘point’ and responsibility of being a conscious being is to understand our world and place in it, ultimately to find redeeming and transforming understanding of our divisive human condition.
We humans need understanding of ourselves, not mindless, answerless, straight-jacketing, dogmatic discipline of our behaviour. We need to be able to think our way to sanity, not abandon thinking and just behave like brain-dead robots. We conscious thinking humans need brain food, not brain anaesthetic. We need rational answers. De-braining ourselves, giving up thinking, just dogmatically insisting that everyone be good and ‘correct’, is fraudulent and gets us nowhere; in fact, it blocks the all-important search for knowledge and in doing so is leading humanity straight to extinction!
The Left is profoundly regressive, NOT ‘progressive’ as it likes to delude itself it is. Dogma is not the cure, it’s the poison. It’s actually the right-wing which is continuing humanity’s heroic search for knowledge that holds the moral highground, not the Left.
Yes, we can finally clearly explain to Greta Thunberg why it is actually her famous admonition that was ‘all wrong’, and ‘not mature enough’, and ‘failing us’.
Nietzsche summarised all this when he wrote, ‘There have always been many sickly people among those who invent fables and long for God [ideality]: they have a raging hate for the enlightened man and for that youngest of virtues which is called honesty… Purer and more honest of speech is the healthy body, perfect and square-built: and it speaks of the meaning of the earth [which is to search for knowledge, ultimately self-knowledge, understanding of ourselves]… You are not yet free, you still search for freedom. Your search has fatigued you… But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!… War [against the oppression of dogma] and courage have done more great things than charity’; and, ‘There comes a time in a culture’s history when it becomes so pathologically soft that it takes the side of its worst enemy [dogma]… and calls it “progress”.’
Compassion and kindness towards those who are suffering or less fortunate is very important, but as Nietzsche said, we have to ‘keep holy’ our ‘highest hope’ of achieving ‘the meaning’ of our existence of finding ‘enlightened’ understanding of ourselves.
I hope the reader will visit and consider whether the biological explanation of the human condition that is presented there is the fully accountable, human-race-transforming, ‘freedom’-from-the-human-condition-‘highest hope’-achieving understanding that is now so desperately needed in the world.
Jeremy Griffith is an Australian biologist and founder of the non-profit World Transformation Movement.