By Ekaterina Cabylis – Aug 6, 2023
“The species in which peace and mutual support are the rule, prosper, while the unsociable species decay.”- Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Evolution is often misunderstood as a straight progression from simple to perfect and from primitive to modern. However, the process of evolution isn’t a straight line it is actually a branching pattern of relationships among organisms. This misconception dates back to before Darwin’s theory of natural selection was published in 1859. Modern scientific consensus rejects the idea of dividing humankind into biologically distinct groups.
Scientific racism, which classifies human populations into different races, has been discredited since the mid-20th century. Despite this, it has been used to support racist worldviews and justify the exploitation of Indigenous populations during the colonial era. Unfortunately, much of the history we are taught is still influenced by this biased perspective. Social Darwinism was a concept created by Herbert Spencer, who loosely interpreted Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Spencer introduced the idea of “survival of the fittest,” believing that species compete to survive, and the strongest ones come out as winners. This idea was then applied to society, suggesting that some groups or species are naturally superior, leading to limited social mobility and little room for improvement.
Colonialism and capitalism have been justified or supported by the principles of Social Darwinism. The idea of “survival of the fittest” was misused to argue that more powerful nations or individuals were naturally superior and destined to dominate and exploit weaker ones. This line of thinking was used to rationalize imperialistic practices, colonization, and economic exploitation in the pursuit of profit and control over resources. Human nature is not fixed; it depends on circumstances. Our inherent qualities can shift based on various factors.
Transforming society doesn’t occur by altering individuals alone; it happens by reshaping the systems and frameworks that govern it. Recent scientific research has debunked the notion of aggression and infanticide being inherent traits in other species and applicable to early human societies. As a result, the concept of humans being inherently violent or competitive is no longer supported by the current understanding in scientific circles.
Primitive communism is a way of describing the gift economies of hunter-gatherers throughout history, where resources and property hunted or gathered are shared with all members of a group by individual needs. In political sociology and anthropology, it is also a concept (often credited to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels), that describes hunter-gatherer societies as traditionally being based on egalitarian social relations and shared ownership. A primary inspiration for both Marx and Engels was “communism in living” as practiced by the Haudenosaunee of North America.
In the mid-19th century, Lewis Henry Morgan observed that Indigenous communities were different from systems focused on making money, like businesses and factories. The land was especially important because it was the basis for their shared and equal relationships. This was recognized by colonizers, who early on concluded that Indigenous peoples of the North American continent, unlike themselves, “held all things in common.” Among these “things,” land was central, a material foundation on which collective relations and understandings of shared, egalitarian, relations might develop.
Socialism had its roots in pre-colonial African society. African society was a classless society, characterized by a communal spirit and democracy based on government through discussion and consensus.
Ubuntu, an ancient ideology that originated in South Africa (the name also differs by country) centers around acknowledging the fundamental essence of humanity by establishing meaningful bonds with others. The term finds its origins in the Zulu and Xhosa languages. At its core, Ubuntu highlights the profound interdependence that unites all human beings and acknowledges the inherent worth of each person. Those who embrace Ubuntu possess a genuine fulfillment in their role within a larger collective. They hold mutual accountability and empathy. This philosophy celebrates the belief in our shared welfare and honor, fostering empathy, and unity within the community.
In the 1990s, the Ubuntu concept was adopted as a guiding principle by post-apartheid South Africa, serving as a means to cultivate harmony and collaboration among its diverse racial and ethnic factions. The ethical principles of Ubuntu encompass regard for others, helpfulness, communal spirit, sharing, concern, trust, and selflessness. Ubuntu is consensus or agreement, prioritizing the overall well-being of the community.
Historical violence, often recounted from a Western academic stance to support capitalism, frequently neglects the perspective of ancient cultures themselves. In ancient Athens, hospitality or Philoxenia was vital and had legal importance. Plato’s Laws outlined how different types of foreign visitors should be treated, such as merchants, cultural guests, dignitaries, and government officials. Whether king or beggar, a person had to adhere to his duties of Philoxenia. If he violated the rules of hospitality, he returned to the role of a hostile stranger.
In archaeology, scholars have questioned established notions about “elites” and “hierarchy” in Neolithic Europe. Dating back to 1972, Peter M. Warren argued that the Bronze Age society in Crete embraced equality . Further proof emerged through studies like Thomas F. Strasser’s research in 1997 , which contradicted the notion of centralized wealth in the so-called “royal palaces.” Yannis Hamilakis’ 2001 research  echoed this, highlighting how items from that culture were shared rather than monopolized by the wealthy.
Humans have a natural inclination towards cooperation and solidarity, without it, we wouldn’t have survived as a species. By changing the socio-economic conditions and creating a more equitable society, individuals can better thrive and work together for the common good.
By critically examining historical sources and acknowledging the role of biases and prejudices, historians strive to present a more comprehensive and nuanced view of history, however, in Western academia, we are rarely presented with this information. Indigenous cultures possess deep and unique knowledge of their environments, cultures, and traditional practices. This knowledge is often the result of centuries of living in harmony with nature and the land, which has allowed them to develop sustainable and holistic approaches to various aspects of life.
Unfortunately, Indigenous communities have faced historical and ongoing oppression and marginalization, which has had a significant impact on their way of life and access to resources. Colonialism, forced assimilation, and discriminatory policies have disrupted their traditional practices, leading to the loss of land, culture, language, and identity. Respecting and valuing Indigenous knowledge is essential not only for the well-being and dignity of Indigenous peoples but also for the broader benefit of humanity. Indigenous knowledge can offer valuable insights into sustainable resource management, biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, and other pressing global challenges.
 Julius Nyerere. Ujamaa – The Basis of African Socialism 1962.
 Warren, Peter M. Myrtos: An Early Bronze Age Settlement in Crete. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972.
 Strasser, Thomas F. “Storage and States in Prehistoric Crete: The Function of the Koulouras in the First Minoan Palaces.” In: Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, No. 10 (1), 1997.
 Hamilakis, Yannis. “Too Many Chiefs?” In: Jan Driessen/Ilse Schoep/Robert Laffineur, eds.:Aegaeum 23: Monuments of Minos: Rethinking the Minoan Palaces, Louvain-la-Neuve/Belgium:Université Catholique de Louvain, 2001.
Ekaterina Cabylis is a Canadian author, graphic designer, advocate for decolonial education, and collaborator with the Rise Up Initiative. With a profound commitment to critical thinking grounded in Marxism, Ekaterina supports decolonial sovereignty through creative endeavors. Ekaterina is also a self-published author and illustrator of "Community," children's literature addressing class struggle. They have contributed articles to MR Online and Orinoco Tribune, actively promoting social change and equity.
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