The left does not evolve

Christopher N Matthews (cnm4@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Wed, 11 May 1994 10:40:38 -0400

that we are talking around each other. In no sense do I accept cultural
evolution: things seem to evolve only in hindsight. We do not experience
evolution like we do not experience the phenotypes that were brought up by
one post. Evolution is an objectified process. It has the aura of an
artifact, something unearthed by enlightenment era men and then passed
along as a kernal of given,immutable knowledge ever since. The point to
my critique is to reject this notion, to emphasize history and the
contexts in which people live, to give priority in understanding to the
fields of experience to which people respond. Evolution, again, is within
history, it is an idea with its own birth, development, and eventual

To the charge of humanism, I plead guilty. The purpose of the
enterprise to me is not scientific, instead it is comprehension of the
struggles which people faced, and the structures of relations and power
they built to deal with these struggles, and ultimately how these
relations supported inequalities. In no sense can we escape, as
'knowledge-producers', our constribution to these structures of power. To
be reflective of our position and how our products are put to use is the
call. Cultural evolution is unacceptable because it roots this
understanding in factors outside of the control of people and into nature
and structure. These are constructed categories built by people to serve
given and immediate historically situated ends, and that they persist,
that they are apparently successful adaptations, is reflective not of
selection but of their service to the dominant interests.