Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom #review

Title: The Lucifer Principle
Author: Howard Bloom
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997

Every once in a while there’s a book that keeps cropping up in conversations that I have with friends, and The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom is one of them. And I’m glad I picked it up. If Lyall Watson’s Supernature made an impact on you, then there’s a good chance you’re going to gobble up Bloom. In essence, the author offers a broad-sweeping yet thought-provoking Theory of Everything, with a vast collection of ideas and factoids that have been doing the rounds for ages.

Except, let’s take not at *what* Bloom’s saying but *how* he’s saying it and *why* he’s saying it in this glorious mash-up of history, psychology and biology. At the heart of it, Bloom looks at mankind’s innate propensity toward violence. He identifies in our behaviour similarities between other mammals. He discusses how a relatively “new” concept – the meme – goes about arranging individuals into groupings labelled as superorganisms. But if you look at the bigger picture, we ourselves, as beings are superorganisms consisting of many billions of cells.

Just as individuals will compete for resources and mates, so do superorganisms, such nations or religions. Bloom investigates what allows these to wax and wane, and discusses the motivations for conflict. Nothing he puts forward here is groundbreaking, but what makes this book important is *why* he’s stating the obvious.

Bloom spends considerable time discussing US vs. Islamic conflict and, considering *when* the book was first published (1995) this is quite ironic considering the occurrences a mere five years after publication. He highlights the dangers of a complacent West sticking its head in the sand, and stresses the danger of nations under the sway of militant religious fundamentalists.

According to Bloom, “evil” is inherent in our natures, very much encoded in our genetic make-up and, while I appreciate the exhaustive illustrations of the problem, I do feel he could have offered more by the way of solutions. That being said, this book is definitely one that needs to be read if we are to make others understand the importance of rational solutions to age-old problems. Yes, the author writes with a highly opinionated tone, and he’s full of rage, but he’s one of the few so far as I can see who isn’t afraid to call us out on what’s wrong with society today – and has been wrong since we first climbed down from the trees.

You *don’t* need to agree with this man, but I do believe his voice needs to be heard, especially in the light of so many people screaming ignorance in the media today.

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