Charles Darwin published his book ‘On the Origin of Species’ on 24th November 1859. His work is reputed as the foundation of biological evolution. He theorized that animals evolved (i.e., from lower unsophisticated form to higher and more sophisticated life forms). Many after Darwin have theorized that the process of evolution itself is by no means conclusive. A direct result of this is to expect that even within the same species, variation is expectedly normal and evolution will remain continuous. Stretching this, it would imply that if humans are assembled, although all are humans, some would in fact be more human than others (please see item 2 in Ernst Mayr’s summary below).
Evolutionary theory directly challenged known sentiments and religious beliefs. The Bible for instance says that things were created, not evolved. Interestingly, logic and science can also be deployed to back this biblical position. Many kids from highly religious homes were specifically schooled at tender ages to watch out for heretic teachings such as that of evolution. This writer was one of such kids.
Ernst Mayr’s summary of some key facts, findings and issues from the Darwinian’s intervention are reproduced below:
- Every species is fertile enough that if all offspring survived to reproduce the population would grow (fact).
- A struggle for survival ensues (arrived at by inference).
- Individuals in a population vary significantly from one another (fact).
- This slowly effected process results in populations changing to adapt to their environments, and ultimately, these variations accumulate over time to form new species (arrived at by inference).
Thus like most pupils in biology classes who shared my religious upbringing, we listened to the teachers, read the books and gave back to them what they taught us as far as Darwin’s theory was concerned. As an adult, I am still not likely to queue up as one of the disciples of evolution. However, observing African leaders, Arab leaders and others, I discovered that there is a type of evolution that appears to be a truism – Social Evolution. Within the context of this piece, I would talk about what I called social evolution scale and inferiority index. For instance, I would argue today that the Nigerian society (here I actually mean the country) is inferior to Canada on my Social Evolutionary scale, Russia is Inferior to the United States on my Social Evolutionary Scale and China is inferior to the United Kingdom on my Social Evolutionary scale. Nigeria (again Nigeria!) is inferior to Ghana on my Social Evolutionary Scale and there are societies within the United States that are inferior to societies within Nigeria on my Social Evolutionary Scale!
In order not to be misunderstood, it must quickly be stated that this writer knows that biologically the Nigerian leader is not inferior to other leaders of the free world thus foreclosing any argument in favour of biological evolution as the overriding constrain to development in Nigeria. If not, such daily assaults against commonsense and decency like the permanent predisposition of the Nigerian leader to prioritize non-essentials – which include activities like the building of a new palace for the Nigeria’s Vice President or the building of a new banquet hall for the President or the lavish celebrations of anniversaries etc that continually take preeminence over and above the legitimate and most pressing needs of the Nigerian people would have been easily explainable by biological evolution – that is, as species lower in the biological evolution rung thereby not being adequately equipped with superior or matching cranial endowment that is comparable to those of its colleagues in saner climes. However, this writer is now convinced that there are adequate evidences suggesting that the Nigerian leaders’ social evolution status is inferior relative to their counterparts in the free world and that this social evolution’s inferior status is responsible for the state of underdevelopment in Nigeria. The primitive acquisition of wealth at the expense of the people, the refusal to learn from history (even the most recent history), the never ending penchant of government to expect common folks to sacrifice while it continues to exhibit the most profligate tendencies and the limitless capacity to complicate simple things are all symptomatic of social evolution’s inferior status of the Nigerian leaders.
Also, unlike biological evolution which is expected to be natural, social evolution is not a product of nature but a product of decisions taken by society’s constituents – especially such constituents whose actions or inactions are capable of defining a path for an entire society or organizations – leaders. Social evolution is imparted by mental capability and value orientation. A socially inferior leader for example is equally likely to be mentally inferior with warped sense of value.
It may be easy to confuse my Social Evolution with the related sub-discipline of evolutionary biology that is concerned with social behaviours, but social evolution as advanced in this discourse applies to societies and organizations and it is not a respecter of location, region or race and does not depend on heredity (there are socially inferior black people relative to white people and there are socially inferior white people relative to black people). Within the context of above usage, heredity excludes social heredity and refers solely to heredity as a congenital endowment.
I have toyed with the idea that Charles Darwin may have first observed Social Evolution at work and concluded that there must be a nexus between this and physical evolution – that is, his observation of social evolution was the motivation for his generalization of a sequential physical evolution as meticulously articulated in his work On the Origin of Species.
If countries can possess social superiority, it implies that there must be some factors by which inferiority of societies could also be measured. For the purpose of this essay, I have called this the inferiority index. Societies (countries or organizations) are made up of people. Some factors seem to define the inferiority index of a state. These factors include leadership, social equity, status dynamism (a superior society today can become inferior in future if social constituents change (e.g., Nigeria was once superior to Ghana) or when what should rightly change remain the same (i.e., when what should change defy change). One single factor however stands primus inter pares and that factor is LEADERSHIP. I have identified the following as some basic issues that would affect or determine a society’s Inferiority Index:
1. Equality of its membership (are all members of the society equal for all practical and theoretical purposes?)
2. Attainment to leadership position (Can everybody in that society aspire to the leadership of that society simply on the strength of the public [the people who constitute the society] without the sole support of powerful men and women)
3. Whether the most mentally equipped have equal chance of leading that society or whether attaining leadership positions in that society is a function of anointing by a secret conclave (usually a small clique)?
4. Is attainment to leadership position in that society spontaneous or predetermined? That is, can one person or a few people ‘arrange’ that his will become the sovereign will of the people?
5. Do people in that society enjoy right to freedom of expression (speech, appearance etc) without official sanctions (China for instance decide what her citizens can see!)?
Are you a Nigerian leader? Do you contest this writer’s assertion? Then prove him wrong by instantiating with specifics such cost-effective people-focused developments that Nigerian leaders have ever prioritized.
By Tunji Ariyomo
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: +447532127503