NETWORK OF INDEPENDENT SCHOLARS, EDUCATORS, AND EXPERTS IN BIOPOLITICS (NISEEB)
R E G U L A T I O N S (English Version)
In the 21st century, life sciences exert a considerable influence on social sciences and humanities. The people nowadays, regardless of their profession, pin their hopes on biology (which can help overcome the ecological crisis and produce new kinds of cheap food) and are concerned about possible risks associated with its developments (e. g., about the possible creation of genetic monsters and cloned humans).
These serious challenges have recently given rise to a new interdisciplinary field of science termed biopolitics. It can be defined sensu lato as the totality of all applications of biology to social and political concepts, problems and practical issues and concerns. The development of biopolitics has been promoted by recent political phenomena including ethnic conflicts, international terrorism (including bio-terrorism), and the formation of environment-centered and bioethical political movements. A number of international organizations and centers (e.g., the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, the Biopolitics International Organization, and the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research) deal with biopolitics or at least some of its subfields. Recently, the Sector for Biopolitics and Biosociology has been set up at the Department of Microbial Physiology (Biology Faculty) of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Section 1. Goals and Objectives
In the light of the above, the Network of Independent Scholars, Educattors and Experts in Biopolitics (NISEEB) sets itself the main goal of coping with interdisciplinary problems and issues that relate to scientific research, education, and social politics and result from the recent developments in the life sciences, particularly in ethology, genetics, neurophysiology, and ecology.
The progress in these fields has important social and ethical implications. They can help us solve problems related to environmental conservation, genetic engineering, the impact of neurochemical drugs on human behavior, and other pressing issues. Apart from its practical value, the recent advances in the life sciences are of obvious theoretical interest, because novel biological data and concepts enable us to consider human nature and psyche, as well as human social behavior and political activities, from a new vantage-point. In order to come to terms with these social and ethical implications of biology, NISEEB aims at carrying out new interdisciplinary research focusing on them, which would provide the foundations for a new understanding of human beings and human society as the results of millions (and even billions) of years of biological evolution. NISEEB plans to carry out comparative studies with humans and other forms of life (primarily, higher animals), concentrating on their behavior and social structures and promoting the idea that bacterial colonies and biofilms, cnidarian cormuses, insect societies, bird flocks, and monkey groups all represent evolutionary analogs of human society.
Despite the indisputable importance of this research, NISEEB believes that the top priority (in scientific, educational, and socio-political terms) is the task to explain the social behavior and political activities of human individuals and groups on the basis of evolutionary biology, paying special attention to the following questions:
· Сan comparative research on the social behavior of human beings and other life forms help us understand political phenomena ranging from ethic conflict, organized terrorism, and student riots to parliament elections, charismatic leadership, and the increasing bureaucratization of society?
· What new knowledge of basic biology and its socially important data and concepts is to be incorporated in high school and college/university syllabi in order to eradicate the currently widespread biological (biopolitical) illiteracy?
· What changes in human social structures and political systems should be made in order to pay sufficient attention to the biological, evolution-molded aspects of human nature that manifest themselves in behavioral trends, needs, and preferences of human individuals and groups?
Coping with all these issues is one of the main goals of NISEEB. Importantly, these questions are focal points of the activities of the international biopolitical community including the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, the Biopolitics International Organization, the Sector for Biopolitics and Biosociology at Moscow State University, and other biopolitical centers mentioned above. We should re-emphasize that various subfields of the life sciences ranging from ecology to genetic engineering to research on human behavior based upon ethology, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology to recent studies on the impact of ancient brain mediators (serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, histamine, nitric oxide, etc.) on human psyche and behavior are of direct political relevance nowadays. It is imperative that the politically important developments in the field of biology should be summed up in terms of general concepts to be promoted and propagandized in society, particularly among politicians, lawyers, and social activists, as well as the people at large. The necessity to summarize and spread in society politically relevant ideas generated in biology is acknowledged by the international biopolitical centers. Naturally, on the Russian soil, biopolitical ideas are to be adapted for the special conditions of the present-day Russia.
In the light of all the above, the Network of Independent Scholars, Educators and Experts in Biopolitics aims to attain the following objectives:
1. In terms of biopolitical research activities: understanding the biosociality phenomenon, i. e. the formation of supraorganismic structures (colonies, communities, associations, etc.) by living organisms on different evolutionary levels, with special attention to human society that can be thus considered from the novel biopolitical viewpoint. Achieving this objective implies that the following subgoals should be attained:
· Clarifying the philosophical issue whether -- and to what extent – Homo sapiens is comparable to other biological species in terms of behavior, needs, psychology, and social structures and, accordingly, within what limits our knowledge concerning various living beings and their communities apply to humans and human society and, visa versa, information about human society can help us understand other, non-human, life forms with their biosocial systems
· Seeking universal properties of all biosocial systems (whether made up of bacterial cells, ants, fish, or whales) and general principles of social organization (e. g. of hierarchical and network structures) that are valid for all biological species; considering the evolutionary origins of human society with its political systems from this perspective, and developing social and political technologies that creatively employ archaic, evolutionarily conserved social organizational models
· Conducting ethological studies aimed at revealing universal bio-behavioral trends, particularly relating to agonistic forms (aggression, dominance, and avoidance) and loyal forms of behavior (affiliation, cooperation, social facilitation, etc.), and at interpreting human conduct during various political events and processes including ethnic conflicts, civil unrest, etc. Naturally, this theoretical and experimental research should be supplemented with studies conducted by scientists and scholars in social sciences and humanities that take into account non-biological, unique features of humans. We suggest that our network should work in collaboration with social scientists on this subject.
· Investigating genes and gene complexes involved in the regulation of social behavior (e. g. aggression) in comparative research carried out both with animals and humans, estimating the contributions of genetic and environmental factors (including learning, experience, etc.) to the formation of behavioral traits. Special attention will be given to traits that influence human political activities, such as aggressivity, leadership skills, conformism, and predisposition to dominant or submissive behavior. NISEEB also plans to conduct studies concerning other biopolitically relevant aspects of modern genetics that are related to biotechnology, genetic engineering, and biomedical developments.
· Studying the neurophysiological mechanisms that control social behavior in animals and humans, elucidating the functions of ancient (the brain stem, the “reptilian brain”), more recently evolved (the limbic system), and quite new (the neocortex) structures of the brain in relation to behavior, psychology, and political activities; investigating the impact of neuromediators (e. g., of the monoamines serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, etc.) on the behavior of various life forms from humans to vertebrate and invertebrate animals to unicellular organisms; developing bioethically permissible experimental models for studying brain neurochemistry and neuropharmacological preparations including those used to improve the operation of the brain and human social behavior (Prozak, Ritalin, etc.).
· Applying biosocial concepts to various kinds of interactions between whole populations ad associations of living organisms (including their antagonistic, cooperative, dominance—submission relationships) within the framework of natural ecosystems; assessing the influence of human society on the ecosystems of the planet and the impact of anthropogenic factors on human health, behavior, and psychology, with particular attention to the current environmental crisis in Russia.
2. In terms of educational activities: the objectives include promoting the whole system of biological education that should also involve non-biologists as an important target audience, because they will probably have to deal with biopolitical problems and issues (related to the environment, genetic engineering, neurochemical drugs, etc.) and eradicating the bio-illiteracy that is currently widespread in Russia as well as around the whole globe and an cause particularly dangerous consequences if people making socially/politically important decisions (politicians, lawyers, doctors) are also bio-illiterate. In order to attain these objectives, we should work on the following subprojects:
· Developing a syllabus intended for every Russian citizen and providing basic biological knowledge in conjunction with its socially relevant (biopolitical) ramifications
· Developing and promoting innovative educational techniques including interactive teaching, teaching based on direct contact with the world of life, network instruction scenarios, team formation in the classroom. Importantly, most of such techniques rest on biopolitical (and ethological) foundations forasmuch as they involve archaic, evolutionarily conserved behavioral trends and social structures (e. g., network-forming techniques create a simulacrum of primitive hunter—gatherer bands or chimpanzee/bonobo groups in the classroom).
· Taking measures for the purpose of reforming the educational system of Russia and its budget in order to create favorable conditions for biological education. This task represents, in part, a social and political initiative and is, therefore, related to the social objectives of the Network of Independent Researchers, Educators, and Experts in Biopolitics (see below).
3. In terms of social and political activities: our network aims at making practical use of the achievements of modern biology (including all its subfields mentioned above) for the purpose of improving the quality of life and the health of all citizens of Russia, raising their life standard, satisfying their needs, ameliorating the social structures and the political system of the Russian state in the light of our knowledge concerning the biological dimension of human nature. Within the broad spectrum of objectives to whose achievement NISEEB can make its contribution (in collaboration with our networks, social movements, and political parties), we would like to emphasize the following items:
1. Developing strategies enabling us to apply biopolitical knowledge to the specific conditions of Russia, providing theoretical underpinnings for novel social technologies that involve human evolutionarily concerned behavioral trends and aim at mitigating human aggression, resolving political conflicts (particularly, ethnic clashes and civil unrest), and stimulating altruistic, loyal, cooperative behaviors on all levels of human society.
2. Making political steps to promote biological education, eradicate the current flagrant bio-illiteracy characteristic of all social classes and professions, which poses the threat of a global calamity in our epoch characterized by an increasing harmful impact of humankind on all life forms on the planet and by gradually developing genetic technologies that can cause unpredictable dangerous consequences (unless proper political and ethical regulations are developed)
3. Changing human social structures and political systems in conformity with the challenges of the evolutionary legacy of humankind. In particular, developing and promoting multicentral non-hierarchical network structures that resemble primitive hunter—gatherer bands and groups of the apes that are especially closely related to Homo sapiens in evolutionary terms (chimpanzees and bonobos), as well as ancient Slavic communities; incorporating network structures characterized by collective ownership into the country’s economy. As mentioned above, NISEEB is a network structure itself.
4. Participating in the global and local efforts that are made in order to protect the biodiversity of the Earth and include international political measures (bio-diplomacy)
5. Developing neurophysiological (especially neurochemical) methods to rehabilitate the people who have sustained social stress, psychological traumas, and depression; taking part in various humanitarian and charitable projects.
As far as the global situation is concerned, NISEEB believes that the world should be a multicentral system (conforming to the network principle of power distribution) and is ready to support, therefore, moderate antiglobalism and anti-nationalism. Inside Russia, the activities of NISEEB members aim at helping the people set up various kinds of NGOs and develop the civil society from grass roots. It should be re-emphasized that all these subgoals are based on biopolitical knowledge and that, for instance, the network social organizational pattern is typical of a large number of primitive societies (in New Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa, and other parts of the world).
Hence, the Network of Independent Researchers, Educators, and Experts in Biopolitics concentrates on socially relevant concepts and ideas of present-day biopolitics that are expected to take effect in the New Russia.
NISEEB is characterized by a decentralized network structure, which is in conformity with its interdisciplinary, multifaceted problems and different kinds of activities. NISEEB has no boss on the top of its hierarchy. Instead, it includes as many partial leaders as there are concrete subgoals to attain and problems to solve. The main burden is to be carried by three partial leaders dealing with scientific research, education, and social initiatives, respectively. In addition, one more partial leader is called the psychological leader. He is responsible for eliminating internal conflicts and stimulating the creativity of all NISEEB members. The partial commercial leader seeks sponsors, keeps an eye on the NISEEB revenue and expenditure, etc. Finally, the external leader is to establish contacts with other organizations, including other networks, to inform them of the activities and the ideology of NISEEB, to put together collective petitions to be submitted to various institutions, etc.
Taking into account the non-hierarchical organizational principles of NISEEB, we expect each partial leader not to give orders like bosses, but rather to collect and sum up ideas and initiatives suggested by various NISEEB members and to coordinate their networking while carrying out scientific, educational, and social (political) projects, including the following practical steps:
· Organizing conferences, seminars, schools, and discussion clubs dealing with the topic(s) of interest for the respective partial leader
· Producing publications, such as articles appearing in magazines and journals, conference proceedings, collective monographs, brochures, etc.
· Preparing collective grant applications, putting together collective letters containing business project proposals and addressed to various scientific, commercial, social, cultural, and political institutions
· Stimulating informal communication among NISEEB members by, for example, organizing collective leisure activities (excursions, picnics, barbeques, visits to theaters, etc.).
Currently, the Network of Independent Researchers, Educationalists, and Experts in Biopolitics is a local organization (situated in Moscow), but we are looking forward to converting it into an interregional network. This status change is to be approved by the decision of a general meeting of all NISEEB members.
Section 3. NISEEB Membership
Accepting a new member for NISEEB as well as expelling a person from NISEEB requires a collective decision made by all NISEEB members. To become an NISEEB member, one is to submit an application, which is to be considered and approved during an NISEEB meeting. An NISEEB member is required to
· Work on one or more projects related to the subgoals mentioned in these Regulations (Section 1), in collaboration with one or several partial leader(s)
· Participate in NISEEB conferences, seminars, and general projects
· Pay minimal membership dues
Section 8. NISEEB Symbol(s)
The NISEEB emblem is a two-colored banner (the upper broad horizontal zone is green and the lower narrow zone is red), the height/width ratio is 3:2. In the middle of the green zone, the word BIOPOLITICS is printed in red bold-typed capitals.
It is hoped that the Network of Independent Researchers, Educators, and Experts in Biopolitics will provide a common ground for the activities of a large number of enthusiasts who are really concerned about the future of Russia and the whole planet with its ecosystems and biodiversity and interested in conserving the precious gene pool of humankind, improving the physical and mental health of the people at large, and securing the prosperity of the Russian nation and the whole humankind. NISEEB is particularly interested in those who are professionally involved with biopolitical problems and issues (environmentalists, lawyers, therapists, teachers, etc.) as well as in wise political leaders. We also call on all far-sighted intellectuals who are capable to clearly see the outlines of the tomorrow world through the haze of present-day turmoil and short-term concerns.