Alien Anthropology

All War is Civil War

Humanity, divided against itself.

How do we resolve the central enigma of human existence? That problem is not that simple yet intractable fact of our own existence, mystifyingly beautiful and as ultimately puzzling as this may be. Nor is it that we invest such a vast amount of our limited individual and collective time blundering from one catastrophic, often pathological, error to another – although this is related to the mystery which concerns me here. The key enigma of our existence seems to me to be that we are bound by our evolutionary inheritance as much as by psychological or cultural history to cultivate our selves and identities as matters of difference and competition and, having inadvertently oriented our integrated symbolic and material worlds around this gravitational core of dissonant adversarialism, we find ourselves forever drifting through conflict into transient periods of peace before revisiting the warring tribalism that has propelled us through most of our history.

Our core enigma is precisely as to why we should always fall back into the bonfire of collectively self-inflicted suffering. It is not even as though we can help ourselves. Collective progress as a technological civilisation is quite concretely a function of the warring instinct and competition for resources and it is this psychological predisposition towards an eternally recurring belligerence that threatens to extinguish us all. It is not even as though we really understand why we are all arguing and fighting anymore – the battle and the war continues with or without any one of us. We are each and all, great or small, merely the transmission medium for these autonomously self-propagating information and energy-processing systems that we understand as history and civilisation.

The battle rages within us, between us, as us and no one even knows who started the fire or probably much cares as this is the game of difference and individuation that we are all compelled to play just to continue to live in this world. Existence and consciousness, human intellect and ingenuity is an entity divided against itself and while this may be as much a cosmological fact as an experience of unsettling discomfort or competitive pathology, none of us control this anywhere near so much as it controls us. This is the heart of the enigma: the world we all inhabit optimally self-propagates through the partisan disorder and periodic violence that threatens to end that same world.

A technological appetite for destruction lies at our core.

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