The familiar “fight or die,” “survival or the fittest” conception of evolution is challenged these days by neo-Darwinists like David Loye and his partner, Riane Eisler, who maintain that human evolution is a subtler process that requires attitudes of cooperation and partnership to be established in cultures that promote the full flourishing of human potentials. This later, higher stage of human evolution promises to take us beyond the imperialist stage of power politics, the dominance of Big Men over slavish underlings, the era of the Big Stick.
Whether or not, once upon a time, there existed pre-historical matriarchal societies who worshipped goddesses, gynocentric and not phallocentric deities, who encouraged nurturance rather than nuisance, collaboration rather than clobbering, we have nonetheless developed both of these contesting conceptions of human culture. The historically dominant culture of dominance has now prevailed to our peril, threatening the sustainability of advanced life on Earth, and making the partnership cultural model look wiser and wiser.
Both Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade (1987), endorsed by Ashley Montagu and Ervin Laszlo, and Loye’s The Great Adventure: Toward a Fully Human Theory of Evolution (2004), an anthology with eleven contributors, present the case for our recreating human culture more viably.
David C. Korten’s The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, similarly proffers an analysis of human history as increasingly captivated by the cultural paradigm of imperialism, morphed nowadays into a ruling corporatocracy that privileges exploitative greed and the aggregation of wealth in the hands of the few, while vast populations languish in poverty and misery. Korten advocates a “great turning” of human culture toward the model of power sharing, of cooperative partnership in the distribution of wealth and power, expressing values of equity, democracy, and rights for not only human beings but all living beings in a thriving biosphere.
Would not Darwin applaud that motive?