Of Non-Consumption Culture
Thesis by Vyacheslav Igrunov
Commentaries by Elena Schwarts
1. The Humanity survival largely depends on its adaptive flexibility. “Scissors” between limits of degrading environment and adaptive opportunities of gene pool (deformed primarily by technogenic culture) must be eliminated. Some cultural mechanisms prevent it. For example, relation to children mortality should be revised. Birth rate limitation results in growing value of each life. However, preservation of any foetus or child enhances gene pool loading with desadaptive factors. Today we need rapid “cleaning” of gene pool and there are no other mechanisms except natural. Positive discrimination of adaptively week and elimination of competitive advantages of adaptively strong is an extremely expensive and, probably, inadmissible luxury.
2. I think some natural mechanisms may “improve” the burdened inheritance. And these mechanisms should be liberated. It primarily concerns reproductive selectivity. Cult of love, increased attention to any demonstration of adaptive possibilities and, therefore, to body, face, movements, along with growing role of intellect should occupy important place in the culture. At the same time, fragility of family providing growth of combinatorial opportunities should become natural. That is why, when struggling for stable family, we must first estimate the balance of positive consequences (such as increase of possible gene combinations) and negative ones (such as difficulties in socialization and cultural assimilation). Stable family decreases waste of biological material and preserves evolutionary advantages only in case of absolute selection efficiency. In stable societies it is achievable. Under conditions of rapidly changing challenges it is problematic. As culture is a powerful evolutionary factor, stable family which provides confident cultural assimilation is more important in poor societies than in rich ones. This is fair for lower social strata in rich countries as well.
3. This demand does not imply preference of biological factors to cultural ones. Culture is not a luxury of a fatigued man. On the contrary, it is one of key evolutionary factors, which provides rapid adaptation in cases where biological mechanisms are too inertial. It would be a mistake to think that culture opposes man to nature, “tearing him from elements’ paws”. This sort of culture interpretation leads to appearance of the already mentioned “adaptive scissors”. The latter are the main threat to humanity existence today. Culture should be concerned with man integrating into environment and representing him not as “the King of Nature” but one of its elements. Culture in its highest forms is created to provide perfection of man, which primarily implies biological perfection (great as human arrogance may be). Turning sexual attraction into love, culture increases chances for success of those who most effectively muster its legacy. Culture, in a way, is a “breeding dance” of Homo sapiens. Who correctly performs its “pas” gets the right for reproduction. That is why intellectual potential of an individual is becoming a leading factor.
4. Main culture mechanisms (distracting from technological component) create adaptive hierarchy, playing the role of insulate mechanisms. Surely, like in genetic mechanisms, blind and erroneous variants are possible here too. However, the total history of the humanity shows efficiency of culture as a factor providing superiority of Homo sapiens. This superiority should not become a source of its death along with death of all other living things. Therefore, we are interested in fundamental revision of culture.
Provision of genetic flexibility needs rapid recombination of genes in the broadest possible frames. It means that inter-racial, inter-ethnical, cross-cultural marriages are a pressing requirement of our time. However, today we see quite opposite tendencies: insulate mechanisms on borders between cultures more and more often become the source of inter-national and inter-racial tensity. Nationalism is a scourge of the mankind. It is likely to buffer the main paths leading to formation of a new adaptive elite. Vertical mobility must not depend on national, ethnical, and racial differences. Developed nations create equally egoistic and barbarous barriers.
5. I certainly do not underestimate painfulness of cross-cultural interaction, particularly within family. Both I realize danger of degraded norms of culture, turning every other (if not every) marriage into “misalliance”. However, it is a special topic.
Vyacheslav Igrunov’s ideas of “the role of death” are scattered over many texts in his web-site. See, for instance, our conversation in spring 2004:
“Our main task is to transform the extensive pattern of civilization into the intensive one. What does it mean? It means primacy of inner life: inner perfection of man is much more important than possession. <…>
So, the first task is to turn inside oneself. But there is another task, biological perfection. Instead of degradation we are experiencing now, our life should be arranged in the mode directed at our perfection. Unfortunately it implies dramatic increase of role of death. Whether we like it or not, other mechanisms do not exist. As we have already missed much, we do not have a lot of time to catch up with what has happened in the world. And it means that at least now, with resources we are having at present, too many people must be subject to death. (“All, what Makes Myself, Is My Reflection about Death…” (“Vsye, chto est’ ya, eto, v sushchnosti, moi razmyshleniya o smerti…”)).
Still clearer he expressed himself in the interview he gave in autumn 2003: “Ecologists say that mortality of juveniles is good for species, because least adapted die. They are eliminated before reaching fertile age. It is much worse when they die after they give birth to equally unadapted. <…> And we have to spend on them great amounts of medicines, produce new ones, which we had not to produce in case they were healthy etc. The range of adaptivity decreases”. ( “Whether the humanity survives” (“Vyzhivet li chelovechestvo?”)). See also his lecture “Inevitability of Ecological Catastrophe. Part II” (“Neizbezhnost’ ecologicheskoi katastrofy. Chast’ 2”)
All the above said may imply the following. Hereditary illnesses must be prevented. Preventive measures fall into three major groups. The first group includes measures directed at environmental sanitation (as external factors more and more often become the reason of inborn defects). The second group of measures includes invigoration of potential mother organism. It is the health of mother which greatly impacts the foetus and child in his first months. “Genetic” prophylaxis involves the following steps. First, if the risk of hereditary pathology is high, the couple may be recommended to refuse from pregnancy. This measure implies a high level of gene diagnostics and high responsibilityof potential parents. Second, due to prenatal diagnostics vital defects must be revealed at early developmental stages, so that parents could relatively easily decide on abortion. (See more in the work “Medical Genetics” (“Meditsinskaya genetika”)). All this inevitably implies education and responsibility of married couples, as decisions must be made by potential parents themselves.
Another way of “gene load” reduce may lie in selective approach to treatment. Vyacheslav Igrunov suggests treating all the acquired diseases (not hereditary) partly or completely at the expense of state budget, while treatment of hereditary diseases should be paid completely by the patient himself.
Therefore, to prevent accumulation of hereditary illnesses government must at least do the following:
1. To increase the role of education, particularly natural-science education. A special role should belong to school education and enlightenment of future parents.
2. To make medical genetics and all the researches in genetics priority fields of science, what entails a very high financial support.
3. To start a serious company for environmental sanitation: to introduce high fines for industrial emissions and waste disposals, to lower the threshold for harmful components (and not just of carcinogens, but for obvious allergens as well) in food and water, to work out a system of marking gene-modified products, to finance investigations for creation of ecologically cleaner kinds of fuel, to contribute to rapid introduction of technique on alternative fuel, popularize abstention from buying personal automobiles.
4. To fight alcoholism and drug-addiction in practice. This, in particular, means payment for treatment of alcoholics (in Russia).
5. To introduce legislatively differentiated structure of payment for hereditary and acquired diseases.
Here is implied a simple thing: the significance of an individual in this world should be determined by his intellect but not by his nationality. That is why the main accent in all the countries should be at revealing talented people able to make a positive benefit to society development. At the same time Igrunov is far from primitive, though rather wide-spread, globalism, implying merging of all cultures into unified human super-culture. Further I’m giving at random several quotes from his texts of different years:
Vyacheslav Igrunov, 2004: “Humanity needs continuous hierarchy which would involve all humans as equals. If you are a black genius, you should be at the top, if you are white moron – you must be at the bottom. And it does not matter in what country you was born! Nobody is concerned. As soon as the humanity refuses from this mechanism, it deprives itself of a great part of its genetic, intellectual, and all other sorts of potential…” (“All, what Makes Myself, Is My Reflection about Death…” (“Vsye, chto est’ ya, eto, v sushchnosti, moi razmyshleniya o smerti…”)).
Vyacheslav Igrunov, 1996: “We should leave ethnical organization of state and create a state of citizens. We certainly consider it obligatory to provide national and cultural specificity for each ethnical group. Rights of any person, no matter what ethnical group he belongs to, must be guaranteed by the state. I think that ethnical specificity may occupy certain niche and find new decisions for emerging problems. The greater national and cultural specificity is, the more complicated and stable the system is”. (Interview to Vassily Philippov).
Vyacheslav Igrunov, early 80s: “I’ve thought a lot of the language and nationality problem. I have not grasped the problem to, at least, pose the questions confidently. However I firmly stand for preservation of national peculiarities. This is an inexhaustible source of spiritual richness and intellectual flexibility and health. And I firmly stand for multylinguisity and polyculture. Health may only be health in case of continuous cultural exchange, when there prevails dialogue instead of insularity, suspicion, detachment, and hostility”. ("Of National Question" ("O natsional'nom voprose").
And here are some lines concerning “painfulness of cross-cultural interaction”:
Vyacheslav Igrunov, 1994: “…desire to consume more and more, besides certain social and cultural shocks, entails (through rapid social changes) the growth of nationalism. But the modern world is gradually becoming a unified system, penetrated with European aspiration to greater prosperity, American pragmatic and cynical pattern not being an extreme one: in Africa or Russia and even in China we can see still brighter examples. Competing for markets, intellectual, technological and raw material resources, gradually all the world countries get involved. And it implies that more and more conditions are being created for the total spread of nationalism…” ( "Russia and Challenges of World Civilization Crisis..." (Rossiya i vyzovy vsemirnogo krizisa tsivilizatsii...))
And here are some concrete examples:
Vyacheslav Igrunov, 2004: “The requirement of a certain stereotype is determined by genes. Just imagine that here comes a Chechen. He got used to live in Chechnya, while Russians are used to live in Russia. They meet here. What comes out of this? What does the Chechen feel? Humiliation. What does a Russian feel? Indignation. Why? The Chechen behaves insolently. While the Chechen says: “They humiliate me, they make me to behave not like a man. I must behave in a certain way. I am a free person”. While the Russian says: “Look how insolently he behaves, what he demands, how he speaks!” Each behaves according to his culture. The Chechen is sure that he behaves as a man, he disturbs nobody, breaks nothing, he just behaves normally. The Russian also thinks so of himself, but they cannot live together. The Russian thinks of “these insolent Caucasians”, while the Caucasians think of “these bastard Russians who exterminate Caucasians”. And you can do nothing about it. This Chechen since his childhood is used to behave in accordance with his tradition. Betrayal of one’s culture means humiliation which is worse than death”.
Vyacheslav Igrunov, 1992: “President Akaev has to promise 50% of the cultivated land to deliver to the Kirghiz in the process of privatization. But traditionally cultivation of land is the sphere of Uzbeks or Russians, who have settled there during last hundred years. Kirghiz intervention into the off-centre sphere is natural, if we imply European ideas of equality and real material inequality coming out of traditional distribution of parts between ethnic groups. But it is not natural from the point of view of traditions and conception of the role of nations and therefore it arouses resistance of Uzbeks and Russians. Though lands, cultivated by Uzbeks, belong to kolkhozes and thus officially they can be equally privatized by citizens of different ethnical origin, real relations permit Uzbeks to consider these lands their own, while the Kirghiz claim is viewed as encroachment on their property. <…>
In 1987—1988 it was very difficult to open a cooperative, particularly an agricultural one, even in Moscow or Moscow region. In Transcaucasian republics it was tenfold harder. But Georgians are adroit people, quite seriously involved in illegal business, who created a powerful parallel economy and corrupted administration. They managed to open cooperatives in Moscow earlier, then Russians or Jews. Still easier for them it was to act in Transcaucasia. Ossetins, vice versa, are an agrarian nation, who never displayed talents either in underground business, or in trade. It is natural that even having equal legal opportunities they were forced out by Georgians. Therefore they are trying to ascribe their problems to Empire ambitions of the Georgian government: it is always easier to blame directly authorities or another nation, than to acknowledge that in some aspects you lose to you neighbor. Moreover, that Georgians indeed have a lot of Empire ambitions, particularly informals of those times.
So, ossetins started complaining that they had been robbed of land and water. Georgians, on their side, began to react painfully at ossetin resistance: because it was their land. Old quarrels revived, the further events are widely known”. (“Economic Reform as One of the Sources of National Tensity” (“Ekonomicheskaya reforma kak odin iz istochnikov natsionalnoi napryazhennosti”).
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