Die for the group and spread your genes

I enjoyed this essay:

Where does good come from? – The Boston Globe: Instapaper

On a recent Monday afternoon, the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson was at his home in Lexington, talking on the phone about the knocks he’s been taking lately from the scientific community, and paraphrasing Arthur Schopenhauer to explain his current standing in his field. “All new ideas go through three phases,” Wilson said, with some happy mischief in his voice. “They’re first ridiculed or ignored. Then they meet outrage. Then they are said to have been obvious all along.”

Wilson is 81, an age at which he could be forgiven for retreating to a farm and lending his name to the occasional popular book about science. Over the past year he’s tried his hand at fiction writing, publishing a novel about ants — his scientific specialty — and landing a short story in The New Yorker. But he has also been pressing a disruptive scientific idea, one he reckons is currently in phase two of the Schopenhauer progression: outrage.

The idea is that if the group that benefits from altruism, the tribe will live to spread the genes. This “outrageous” idea by Edward O Wilson is not so silly.  Nor is it new.  It is the bread & butter of what I learned at the University of Canterbury in the 60s from Dr Bigelow.
I enjoyed his classes and book. He taught the simple idea that the unit of evolution is the “gene pool”, not the individual carrier of the genes. Amazon

Social cooperation, which leads to the Golden Rule and what we call the highest human qualities, was demanded by what we call the lowest of human qualities: the ferocity of human enemies. Shakespeare’s two opposed foes that still encamp us therefore evolved together. They were not even two different sides of the same coin, but were as intimately interdependent as our brains and hearts are. Cooperation was not substituted for conflict. Cooperation-for-conflict, considered as a single, hyphenated word, was demanded — for sheer survival.

page 7 & 8 The Dawn Warriors.

Researching this a bit more, it is evident that Wilson is adhering closely to Darwin:

It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet that an advancement in the standard of morality and an increase in the number of well-endowed men will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another. There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection (Darwin, 1891, Vol. I: 203; italics added).

Found that quote in an interesting paper on the history of these ideas while searching for Robert Bigelow AND Edmund O Wilson: Human Evolution and the Origin of War: a Darwinian Heritage

[A fitting post for Easter Sunday!]

Hurt Locker, Green Zone – Offensive

I felt conned after seeing Hurt Locker. It seemed unrealistic, to the point of silly. The soldiers may be in the wrong war at the wrong time but they are not that stupid. But it ignores the Iraqis, do they even exist? It totally ignore the US is there killing civilians by the thousands. Obscene. Like the movies Nazis made. Pilger puts it well.

The Oscars con game | SocialistWorker.org:

What nonsense. Her film offers a vicarious thrill via yet another standard-issue psychopath, high on violence, in somebody else’s country, where the deaths of a million people are consigned to cinematic oblivion. The hype around Bigelow is that she may be the first female director to win an Oscar. How insulting that a woman is celebrated for a typically violent all-male war movie.

I also saw the The Green Zone. It was not as bad, but bad. Strangely it was attacked and praised for being anti-American. But it’s more subtle than that. For example, (from Wikipedia)

Andrew O’Hagan in The Evening Standard called Green Zone “one of the best war films ever made” because “it does what countless newspaper articles, memoirs, government statements and public inquiries have failed to do when it comes to the war in Iraq: exposed the terrible lies that stood behind the decision of the US and Britain to prosecute the war, and it does so in a way that is dramatically brilliant, morally complex and relentlessly thrilling.”

That is true but for anyone following the actual info coming out from the UN it was always obvious that this was a lie. Did anyone in power actually believe this? I doubt they manufactured false Intel for soldiers, that would be like believing their own lies. The movie gives more credibility to the lie than it deserves, it doth protest too much. As in Avatar, who is the hero of this invasion and its so-called expose? An American boy.

The movie (probably more so the book) Wag the Dog was right onto it, what year was that? 1997

Both these movies need to be seen on the light of such stories as this one from Donna Mulhearn – who went there as a human shield. (see later post)

How to get some sanity

I listen to Democracy Now more than any other news or current affair program. I find it gives me a better picture of the world than I can get from any NZ source. Left, not liberal, not sectarian. Amy Goodman – a hero!

I wish more people would listen to it. I found myself chatting casually about the plight of Haiti over the years because US interference and people though I was espousing conspiracy theory. Ordinary left thinking New Zealanders!

I’ll post up how I listen to Podcasts. The great thing is I walk & listen, good for my body. Good for the dog. Multitasking.

The Kidnapping of Haiti

On Radio New Zealand news today there was a report of violence in the street and looting in Haiti, they made it sound as if the Haitians were the problem, gang violence, terrorism even, and the US were there to help. I know this is pure twisted reporting, part of an empire building strategy that we get such news. But it is so easy to sound like a conspiracy theorist, even to myself.

Then, the following items bring a more sane perspective:
I listened to:

Democracy Now

This daily report is so valuable, and essential listening IMO for anyone wanting to know what’s happening in the world. Just excellent journalism.

I listened to Cameron Reilly doing a useful synopsis of

Haiti’s history

Looks like he will have more Podcasts coming on this theme.

I like Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine site.

Am editing this post – Monday, 8 February, 2010 – to add this link from socialistworker.org – jus reading it makes it clear how Orwellian the neoliberal language for imperialism is: re-construction, healing, reform. Yeah Right!

The “shock doctrine” for Haiti | SocialistWorker.org:

With its intervention in Haiti, the U.S. is sending a signal to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean–where masses of people have rejected neoliberalism and elected reform socialist leaders like Hugo Chávez, who aim to tame the excesses of capitalism and pass reforms to address social needs.

and read this Pilger item:

ITV – John Pilger – The kidnapping of Haiti:

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured “formal approval” from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to “secure” roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration.

Full item follows
Continue reading “The Kidnapping of Haiti”

Withdraw all troops from Afghanistan


This statement from Peace Action Wellington is worth supporting. Even now. They are saying they’ll be there for 5 years. Out now, IMO! Peace Action Wellington are asking for an email so you can be added to the list. I’ve just sent one.


STATEMENT: Hands off Afghanistan! Say no to SAS return to Afghanistan

We are encouraging organisations, grassroots community groups and individuals to sign on to our anti-war statement below. If you would like to add your name, simply email us at


Full statement from their website follows:
Continue reading “Withdraw all troops from Afghanistan”

Emperor Obama

I have found myself increasingly angry, when I hear people still support him now after his blatant illegal bombings, his murders, because that is what illegal wars are, even when executed by drones.

I am angry, but sad because we have the same quest for world domination (he calls it leadership), disguised by the same rhetoric about “war on terror”. The really sad thing is how the bombing in Pakistan (terrorism in its own right) is fueling the anti-American sentiment. This is a war that America can’t win. But there will be many more deaths.

Weirdly it looks as if the European nations will be forced to make at least token support for American expansion. Will this stir up an anti-war movement in Europe?

Stopping American aggression, terror, murder NOW is so important. What is the state of the international anti-imperialism movement. Sadly Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas are in the forefront. Do they need our support? I can’t find that in me, though I am able to see how their plight calls for a fight.

Is there effective opposition to American imperialism anywhere? Will it come from within the USA? In Europe? In New Zealand who has troops in Afghanistan, and a new right wing government?

There is plenty of good information & opposition, from familiar sources, can an anti-imperialism movement come out of this?

Tom Hayden on Obama’s Wars
Warning of a quagmire, with a good grasp of the gloomy facts.

The ISO, on the case for getting out of Afganistan

Pulse media has an intelligent post on Obama’s murders and illegal orders. There is an exchange in the comments worth reading as well. This is where I got the Emperor Obama title for this post.


This is the empire we’re dealing with. On Obama’s brief watch it has already murdered Pakistani civilians. In this context, I think we should talk about the idiocy rather than the audacity of hope.

Afghanistan – not a good war – gathering some info.

I am figuring out why the hell we, New Zealand is in Afghanistan. Why it seems almost secret that we are there. Why Obama wants to escalate the war. Some links in no particular order.


By any measure, a military “victory” in Afghanistan is simply not possible. The only viable alternative is to begin direct negotiations with the Taliban, and to draw in regional powers with a stake in the outcome: Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China, and India.

But to do so will require abandoning our “story” about the Afghan conflict as a “good war.” In this new millennium, there are no good wars.

Look at this link if you have a good stomach for atrocity.

Phil Goff 2005 on why we are there – he calls it Peace keeping – sounds like double talk to me. The news today about civilian deaths.

Wikipedia summary

I was hoping to find more from the Greens. Its all a bit stale, and the upshot is that our involment is a token. there is this. And Keith Lock’s original opposition to the war in 2001. And his comments on rebellion of the New Zealand SAS make interesting reading! Here, and here.

Ok, it may be that New Zealand can keep out of the worst of it, but it is there alonside an invader. The are complicit even if the SAS has rebelled. I wonder what the deeper story is – who rebelled, what do they say now?

Scoop has a recent Govt press release.

Amnesty notes torture by US

Gwynne Dyer: Afghanistan – A war won and lost London Journalist via the New Zealand Herald – also last years, but has some analysis.

A voice for our side – Steve Earle

A voice for our side

At times, Earle rightly makes no attempt at subtlety at all–as with his opposition to the coming war on Iraq. “We intended to go into Iraq before September 11, and we’re gonna go into Iraq, and that’s part of this big lie,” Earle argued in a recent interview. “Iraq had fuck all to do with September 11! John Walker Lindh had fuck all to do with September 11! It’s just scapegoating, and scapegoating is always about making somebody feel more than, by making somebody else feel less than–and that’s a really dark, dangerous, malignant thing to do.