The Genetics of Power

Johnson was one of the great thinkers, a man capable of seeing the bigger picture, the pieces (politics, religion, science) as all inter-related.  The hierarchy quote really applies on both a conceptual and literal level.  On the conceptual level, he is saying knowledge is power, whether applied to politics, religion or science.  No matter the field, through discovery, it can always be made better, or unmade if it is unsound. Everything is open for debate, exploration and change if warranted.  On a literal level, a change in technology can have direct implications across the spectrum.  The obvious example he gives is the shift of power from the South of England (estate- based agriculture) to the coal-based North.  With this shift came shifts in power, capital, and views on religion along with the rise of an entirely new class in England. (Johnson, pp. 1166-168)

I think the exploration of and manipulation of genes is a science that is going to have this sort of cross spectrum impact.  The impacts of this technology have obvious capital implications, but I think it will be in Religion we see a real uprising.  The idea of science, and the governments backing it, playing god is going to create its own “Birmingham Riot” within many of the Western Religions, which at least in America have displayed a power to unite around controversy and sway elections.  Though some may see religion as inconsequential when it comes to power politics, there will no doubt be large numbers of people who see gene manipulation as a dangerous threshold that should not be crossed.  When combined with an organized religious base, we could witness a power shift affecting technology and capital that changes the course of the country and the world.

One thought on “The Genetics of Power”

  1. Hello William!

    I would definitely agree with you that the new frontier of genetic editing and “designer babies” is going to be a major event in the near future, which like you said will likely trigger great debates across the U.S, and likely the entire world. It would be interesting to see how far the major religious institutions push back against genetic editing; i.e. where would they draw the line? Many fetuses that are identified to have a mental disability are often aborted (1), so would they (religious organizations) be fine with “fixing” the down syndrome to reduce abortion rates? The potential of genetic editing is such that many such conversations/debates/arguments/yelling matches across a wide variety of issues will take place.

    (1) Natoli, J. L., Ackerman, D. L., McDermott, S. and Edwards, J. G. (2012), Prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome: a systematic review of termination rates (1995–2011). Prenat Diagn, 32: 142-153. doi:10.1002/pd.2910

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