With the devolutionary success of the Homo economicus, the herd virtues have also devolved into obsessions with what has been bought, or, what could be bought, or should be bought. Our herd virtues are stamped by brand names. Pride in the brands I wear and carry. Quality depends more on the label than the thing itself. Identity through association. The tribe of the club. Patriotism, the act of carrying the flag.
But while our civilisation is now that of the Homo economicus, we need to remind ourselves that this reality is just a fabrication. We don’t have to be here. In fact, the alternative to the Homo economicus could well be a return to our authentic nature, the Homo sapiens. An identity with Sapiens would actually be a revolution toward an authentic individualisation of culture and society and a liberation from our current herd mentalities. But a Sapiens individuality would not be the source of competition and rivalry that we see in the pseudo-individualism of the capitalist herd. rather it would be a rejoicing in human creativity and invention generated through the acquisition and utility of Sapiens’ knowledge gained and shared.
Under the herd instinct of the Homo economicus, the individual is reduced to, or exalted as, a model, a figure to follow and acclaim, but, above all, to model oneself upon. These models are often presented as examples of the herd’s own fantasies of freedom. As archetypes of success, the models are waved about like a carrot on a stick before the donkey’s mouth. Implicit is the idea that ‘one day, you could be like this too,’ and yet, at the same time, there is the notion that these models are the supremely privileged exceptions. As superstars, they are allowed to express their individuality freely, although this is also a great fallacy for the models are under continual scrutiny from the lenses of Paparazzi cameras.
For a Sapiens society, on the other hand, individualism would be seen as a creative gift that the society itself will benefit from. Sapiens society would have no fear of the individual and even the logical antithesis of the Sapiens’ rational-animal culture, irrationality, would not be feared but channelled into the much-admired field of creativity.
However, individualism does carry moral values and, in a society that truly values individualism, the negative aspects will have to be controlled or rejected. Selfishness or haughtiness would be immoral in an authentically Sapiens culture. Sapiens is a natural trait of our species: knowledge is information and information implies sharing. Sharing, learning – building from contemplation. Not the contemplative life of the monastery-society, but a contemplation towards progress. Authentic history is an evolution of the entire universe – being is becoming and the mind of the Homo sapiens is an important part of that becoming, whereas the Homo economicus is an aberration, a step backward, a devolution of that process. To step forward again we need to re-establish authenticity … the authenticity of the Homo sapiens sapiens.