To the Editor:
Years ago, a widely read article titled, “What is a Liberal? What is a Conservative?” made the rounds. The political positions defined as being one or the other have changed through the years, and sometimes changed back again.
What has not changed and is becoming painfully clear these days is that there have always been two polar opposite political perspectives – one committed to individual freedom and independence, the right not to have one’s life unduly burdened by the collective desires of others; the other committed to the notion that we are all in this together, and we owe it to one another to share equitably, to look out for and take care of one another. Which pole aligns most closely with the ideals of democracy often is argued. What can’t be argued is that one pole is clearly more closely aligned to the most successful strategy in evolution, the social community.
Polymath Peter Kropotkin, near the turn of the 20th century, published a book, “Mutual Aid,” summarizing scientific findings demonstrating that mutual aid, or cooperation, was the dominant factor in the evolutionary success of communities of social “animals,” “savages,” “barbarians,” “medieval city dwellers” and “modern men.” Failures in such communities typically were caused, he argued, by a breakdown in cooperation and the ascendancy of competition, lawyers and greed.
Most would agree, at this point, that the Democratic Party needs to redefine itself and distinguish itself more clearly from Republicanism. A party committed to Mutual Aid would make explicit evolutionary sense.
Donovan C. Wilkin