Questions and answers from Ross Milburn, author of Adaptive Society
Why did you write Adaptive Society?"I see humans facing many serious problems, such as warfare, extreme wealth differentials, starvation and water shortage, obesity, drug consumption, pollution, and materialistic greed, that are entirely avoidable from a scientific point of view, and arise because of the bad choices we make in the management of human societies. I want to show two things. First, that all the “systematic” human problems that affect industrialized societies can be seen as failures of the “adaptive fit” between the human species and its artificial habitat. Second, to show that these problems would not arise if we retained the egalitarian social organization that evolved alongside humans in nature and rejected the hierarchy and coercion of the nation state. I want to explain what forces arose in prehistoric times to create warfare and the parasitic state, and what we can do now to put things right."
How long did it take you to write the book?"It took about 14 years. When I started, I thought that I had answers to the issues surrounding the modern failure of human adaptation, but I had to study many things to discover answers to the objections that arise from my advocacy of a more natural form of human society."
What makes you condemn the state so vehemently?"I was born in London in 1942, and remember the fear generated by the German air raids. The two World Wars killed a vast number of people and destroyed much of Europe, yet the only reason for their occurrence was that ordinary people had allowed their political masters to have the power of gods. British and US propaganda painted a picture of “good versus evil” but the British empire was the model for the ambitions of the Axis powers, and all states acted with such ruthlessness, that it became clear to me that so long as we are controlled by states, we will have warfare. Later in life, I realized, little by little, that all the problems facing humans are really just the consequence of political parasitism and ineptitude. We have sacrificed human nature to the ambitions of politicians."
What alternative is there to the nation state?"The answer is: the social organization that evolved with humans in nature. If we are satisfied with our naturally evolved human intelligence, with our moral conscience, and the grace and athleticism of the human body, then why do not also support the egalitarian social organization that evolved in nature to optimize human adaptation? During the recent stages of evolution, warfare and the nation state arose as maladaptive side-effects of technology – but there is no reason at all why we should support such grotesque and parasitical systems a moment longer than necessary."
Isn’t universal democracy an alternative solution for reform of government?"No, it is not a reform at all. Democracies are controlled entirely by parasitical politics, and are prey to warfare, extreme wealth differentials, consumerism, and lack of human rights. There is no alternative to the egalitarian social systems that evolved in the stone-age to complement human intelligence."
Were your radical ideas formed in your childhood?"My father was a freethinking Scot, and my mother was a farmer’s daughter. Britain was not prosperous after the WWII, but I had a great deal of freedom and the opportunity to make thing using hand tools, something which many modern children, especially those living in high-rise flats, do not have. I benefitted from the 11-plus intelligence test, that enabled me to attend a 500-year old fee-paying school that was otherwise far beyond my family’s means. But I remember being sickened by my sympathy for the children who failed the 11-plus exam and had to attend second-best schools. Social engineering is something else I hate about the state."
How have you earned a living?"I have been a freelance writer all my life. I started writing for trade and technical publications in London, and also spent many years in public relations and the advertising world. Latterly, I worked as a freelance journalist and commercial writer, mainly in the IT industry."