Emergence (Shift Journal Inaugural Keynote)

On the autism rights and neurodiversity blogs in July last year, fury erupted around the radio show host Michael Savage’s comments that autistic kids were brats.

Savage said that autism was a “fraud, a racket.” He went on to say, “I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is.”

The rage of autism advocates communicated quickly. Home Depot, Aflac, Sears, Budweiser, Direct Buy, Cisco and Radio Shack withdrew sponsorship before the end of the month. Radio stations dropped the show.

As an activist and organizer, I feel like what I observed was a social change miracle. Society likes to keep its anomalies and minorities invisible. Savage’s words have revealed the power of a group that will not hide.

Deep into this great transition from a capitalist, hierarchical, patrifocal society to the horizontal, aesthetic-based, partnership society, events occur that provide a window into the future. Neurodiversity is almost invisible at present. It is becoming a central focus of society very quickly. July a year ago was a coming out party.

Autism and Asperger’s rights represent the third wave of genetic justice. Civil rights, the first wave, established the language, strategy and tactics for creating social change. Women’s rights and gay rights manifested integral aspects of the social structure conflict between matrifocal and patrifocal frames of reference, championing the rights of all peoples. The neurodiversity movement heralds the hidden, central theme of changes underway. The physical, neurological and behavioral features of autistic and Asperger’s children and adults are confounding to a society unaware that these individuals are the third wave of a massive social movement.

Evolutionary biological theory in the U.S. revolves around a belief that natural selection satisfactorily explains how evolution unfolds. Evolutionary developmental biology is relieving many academics of this failed frame of reference. Still, with scientists unable to make the connections between societal transformation and biological evolution, the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the dramatic increases in neurological anomalies are little understood. Darwin proposed three dynamics as integral to transformation: natural selection, sexual selection and Lamarckian processes. It is sexual selection in the context of social structure and the influence of the environment (Lamarckian selection) on an embryo that are together responsible for a switch from patrifocal to matrifocal frames of reference and the re-emergence of ancient genotypes in the present day.

We’re not talking about regression or reversion. It seems that something wholly new is emerging. It is possible that we are observing the first stage of a synthesis of the two great paradigms.

The thesis is that there were ancient, dance-driven matrifocal societies with commanding women, cooperative men and consciousness only beginning to split. We communicated by gesture. Waking was not unlike dream. Myth and miracle felt personal. Rhythm and pattern were the central aesthetics. Children did not know their fathers.

The antithesis becomes ascendant with the Indo-Europeans. A patrifocal society characterized by split-brain speech makers demands that woman cooperate with males that pass down possessions to the sons. God was distant. The rhythm of society becomes the horse hoof as the warrior takes control of the agricultural economy, song and story.

In the midst of synthesis, it’s difficult to understand the implication of the re-emergence of an Asperger’s/autism neurology characterized by a tendency to know things whole while engaged in the rhythm of the part. Back in Africa, when language was only beginning to break our brains into two, we were more unconscious than conscious beings.

Indo-Europeanized, we became separate and split-brained, focused only on the part or on the goal, alienated and male dominated, destroying what seemed not useful, unable to easily see the repercussions of our actions or feel responsible to change our behavior if we did.

The synthesis is a neurology with an intuition for understanding the big picture with guidance by a brain that can achieve goals step by step, a brain that has differentiated and understands that wholes are made of parts. We are merging the unconscious experience of the whole with the conscious focus on the part.

Aesthetics + reductionism = self awareness. Nature + individuality = humanity. Ancient aboriginal + Indo-European = Neurosynthesis.

The neurodiversity movement is only now just acquiring its legs. It needs to convince society that autism and Asperger’s are not disorders, not just unique, but are the first steps toward neurological synthesis.

We’ve waited a long time for this synthesis. Savor every moment of these unique times. An age of miracles has returned.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject (The book is called Evolution, Autism and Social Change). 10 minute introductory video here.


The above first appeared at Shift Journal on 8/31/09, and served as the site’s de facto keynote entry.

This reposting marks the beginning of a series of resurrections from Shift Journal’s archives.


on 01/16/12 in featured, Politics | No Comments | Read More

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