Your points are not unfounded, but are workable only if we take the philosophical stance that we are not social animals, and that's simply not true. The effect of our sociality on everything (including ourselves) could well be described as 'evil' from some points of view. If you take the position that it's 'evil' to be social animals, well fine, and good luck with overriding millions of years of evolution. Trying to change that is Sisyphean at least, and profound psychological denial.
Hey, I'm an old hermit way back in the hills. I only interact with others when necessary, but I don't imagine that my way of life is superior to that of those more normally socially engaged. Yes, our profligate species thrives at the expense of many others, and is surely 'evil' to them if they have such a concept. We are capable (if not necessarily able) of recognizing this and applying moral judgment to mitigate some of the effects; we are not capable of affecting change simply by denying our social character. The current state of the US congress should be ample proof of this.
My bias is clear, I am biologist who works in paleontology and teaching. My scientific bias tells me to work against 'cultural trends' (that is what human civilisation is) using "but we are social animals" as an excuse for humanity to behave as a cancer and do anything we please, "just because we can".
There is a vast biological difference between social animals (apes, wolves, whales, etc) and colonies (cancers, ants, termites, gulls). We as a human, were we indeed living as our biology has evolved, would all be living in smaller societies, scientifically observable societies, at the measure of the human body, where each member knows each other personally. What human civilisation is experimenting at in this present form is not "society" it is a "drone colony". You say you're an older hermit, so you may remember the 80s book ANTS (Les fourmis) which posited a social analysis of the similarities between ants and humans. That's all fine if you deny science and base our view of civilisation strictly on a cultural/religious perspective (cuz religion is no less a "culture", a societal view issued straight from the imaginary).
For a short time, republicanism fought monarchies in several countries. But we seem to be going back to a monarchic organisation of society, only difference is the blue blood status is now defined by corporate power instead of a castle. Monarchies (certainly not just European culture here) are run like bee hives and termite hills, all in service of the monarch. The more servicemen, the stronger the monarch.
Empathy/religion are the tools of power to keep all the little worker-humans behaving in an orderly manner in order to keep the machine rolling.
We need an empathy rebellion. I call for redistribution of empathy, away from human civilisation, and towards the rest of the world we live in. Humans are not sardines, ants, bees, or gulls. We are apes, and our society dimensions really should more reflect that. Imagine an alien scientist landing on earth and studying humans... Biologically, they say cancer or bugs, not ape.
I don't entirely or even mostly disagree. I don't think that rejection of our species essential hive mentality is especially helpful, since it's something that takes many lifetimes to steer, but it is instructive to note it. Yes, great harm (and some good, depending on perspective) has been done by those taking advantage of it, but I think it more important to focus on those actions in the near term and discuss how and why our evolved proclivities allowed them ground later when and if the pressure is largely off.
We can figuratively step outside our evolved condition to discuss these things philosophically, but we can't do much beyond reproducing to alter how they play out in the real world. Note that I inserted the modifying word 'much'. We have got to a stage where our ideas affect our destiny, and so we do to some extent alter our actions and thus their outcome beyond just what is genetically driven. We can intellectually decide that a 'hive mind' is counterproductive or morally repulsive, but we can't over the course of one or a hundred generations make it irrelevant. To have a firm grasp on reality and any hope of doing anything useful we have to understand just what sort of creatures we are and work from there.
That is a most excellent and thoughtful reply :)
I like your use of the term 'hive mind' and think this philosophical discussion of 'hive mind' versus 'ape mind' should be at the forefront of societal policy. IMO, biologically, that 'hive mind' is behind much of the social/medical ills that afflict our modern times (last 3-5000 years).
One generation of status quo citizens and anti-change citizenry may not overturn this Queen Bee power structure, but I think it important that we spend a lot more time discussing this very biological problem. There have been revolutions, and I certainly hope there will be future ones. Revolutions I see as a sign of a healthy citizenry. Peace is but an expression of all-mighty power.
We should start another thread about 'hive mind' vs 'ape mind'. :)
We could have that conversation, and I'd take the position that 'hive mind' is part of what we are.
Edit: Hmm somehow the final 7/8ths of my comment got cut off.
'Hive mind' is indeed the culture we live in, no doubt, but we have no biological foundation for this, it is but a mind game :)
This is a disturbing analogy. A true beehive is biologically sustainable because, while the workers all feed or protect the queen, she reproduces the workers' genes. In our society we all feed the "queens" (the 1%), either as workers or as consumers or both, but we are left to reproduce and feed our children with what scraps the 1% leave us. They have taken over our democracy and turned it into a plutocracy, and bedazzled our minds with religion and Fakes News (excuse me--Fox News) so that we do not recognize that they control us.
Yes you are correct, the bee hive is sustainable whereas modern human civilisation is not. That is why though the hive describes aspects of our social structure (probably because we've been studying bees for so many millenia and have tended to create a culture which emulates them, whereas it's much much harder to understand ape society... because we can not observe/dominate/control them so easily. It's the foundational bias of science, and science's biggest challenge, we know best what is easiest to know, but have little knowledge of things harder to know. Bees I know from our backyards, apes I must travel to the deep jungle forests to watch.
It's why I much prefer the cancer analogy. Our civilsation has been based on growth for 3-4 millenia, and this growth was driven by religious/patriarchal musings on 'what wonderfully full of potential creatures we are'.
We may be wonderful, but we certainly are deadly. It would be nice if a future secular society could take this into account and not place so much power in "what can I achieve" but more "how can I live fully". Sitting as I am now, at a desk, in front of a computer screen, is not living fully, but it's the one of the only options we have as atheists. We shelter ourselves within the skirts of technology to distance ourselves from the hordes of religious crazy people out there!!! LoL
I don't want to make you envious, but I am sitting with my laptop computer, accessing the internet through a wireless modem, on the deck of my house in the rainforest of the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. I am a hermit like you, though my neighbors are all Christians. I guess I am a closet atheist.
@Homer... I don't envy you, I myself have enjoyed my laptop wirelessly in Caribbean and African sea ports, atop mountains, and in my tub with a view. My brain has hermit qualities, but not my body, and though almost all my neighbours consider themselves "non-religious", they're all faithers. It is the biggest challenge facing atheist politics. Churches and gods and almost passé, it's this idea of "faith" and "goodness" that we need to fight, because they are enshrined in our ludicrous moral codes. "Goodness" is such a subjective meta-consciousness useless term, we'd do much better to make our social policies and laws based on results, not subjective ideas of goodness.
Badly? meh. If we were treating each other badly, the population would be dropping instead of increasing. Homo sapiens moral code was designed by the powerful to dominate the masses, and it has been extremely effective at this, to the point were notwithstanding our position at the top of the food chain, we are the most numerous mammal species on Earth. We are obsessed with these ideas of "good" and "evil", that is religious thought, there is no such thing as right and wrong, all is relative, what is pain for one is joy for another and vice versa. Happiness and pain are no less relative concepts. It all depends on what our life experience is.
The root of all evil. The love of money and the lies that people will tell and do in order to get that money! Yes, this also translates into power. The wealthy have power and they are not poor. This power is "power-over" as others are saying here.