Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
Darwin was wrong. The Burgarii Collective is living proof of that.
Watching the massive arcologies floating above the old city is surreal – mountains literally drifting among the clouds. I am reminded of a text book found deep in the library’s archives (one of many I’ve been transcribing since the 2026AD “Datacrash” wiped 90% of Earth’s electronic storage). According to the text, Charles Darwin, father of modern evolutionary theory, had a contemporary known as Peter Kropotkin, a disinherited Russian prince, zoologist and philosopher who had proposed an evolutionary model which stood in utter contrast to Darwin’s “survival of the fittest.”
I observe the various races of the Burgarii Collective carry out their specialized tasks on and about the lush floating oases of the arcologies. Some fly by wing or membrane. Some are carried aloft with flight packs of various designs. Still others crawl effortlessly over the hull, using natural or artificial suction pads to secure them to the surface. At a glance I can see over a thousand different species of plant, animal and sentient races all working together for a common good; panoply of colour, genetic design and symbiotic co-operation.
Kropotkin’s model was based not on genetic superiority of tooth and claw, but on mutual aid, wherein an individual not only co-operated with members of its own species for the betterment of the whole, but would develop strong, lasting, sometimes bizarre symbiotic relationships with other species for mutual benefit.
A multi-limbed Grokos floats past, carried aloft by a Vindarkian helium sac. The Vindark’s small, jet-like vents propel the harvester down rows of ripe strawberries – a terrestrial delicacy for the insectoid Grokus. I can see a humanoid Druig, with its Methane Algae respirator, fidgeting with a green, crystalline generator unit. Nearby, a tall, spider-like Scarvenian Empath explains to a group of humans how the generator’s semi-sentient X’ioli crystals are harmonized via the multi-tonal frequencies of a Creax Vocal Harp, producing giga-watts of electricity on demand.
According to the book, Kropotkin’s ideas had plenty of experimental data and research supporting them, but Darwin’s “dog eat dog” vision of the world was a sentiment shared by the seminal corporate engines of the age; young industrialists who were steadily gaining power and influence alongside the burgeoning Industrial Revolution.
Thus, Darwin’s voice was heard while Kropotkin’s faded to obscurity. The new zeitgeist placed humanity at the top of the food chain; self-made Lords over the kingdom of Earth. “Survival of the Fittest!” became the rallying cry of a thriving corporate hegemony, heralding an era of competition and global expansion.
Drunk on the promise of the new paradigm, we systematically manufactured, one human at a time, a rapacious social beast hell-bent on survival. A voracious predator, it swallowed anything in its path; trees, oceans, skies, flesh, leaving a trail of devastation and waste in its wake. Species vanished, devoured by the beast’s insatiable desire for more. Within three centuries, all life on Earth was endangered. The few remaining humans were the sickest of the lot.
The survivors, it seemed, weren’t the fittest after all.
What were we then?
Just plain lucky.
If not for Burgarii intervention, we would’ve destroyed ourselves along with a multi-billion-year-old ecology. But they came and have shown us what Kropotin tried to show us so long ago.
Today, a Plithian hive mind is teaching me the language of bees. Already their calming buzz is forming a coherent syntax in my mind. I wonder what things would have been like if we’d chosen this path sooner. What new relationships might have developed? How many species might have been spared?
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