This famous phrase conjures up images of organised secretive forces working against the government of the day by any means available. It generally refers to a fifth-column enemy assault in the deposing of an existing regime by another.

In the context of this article, ‘The Enemy Within’ is a reference to the controlling historical factors that have influenced humanity to be its own worst enemy. Instead of a reason to abandon all hope and thereby surrendering to our self-conjured adversities, once recognised and exposed, ‘The Enemy Within’ can be rendered harmless.

‘The Enemy Within’ is the how’s and why’s of our unrestrained evolutionary thought processes that have been necessary for our long journey until recently. They are now no longer an aid in survival, rather they serve no other purpose than that of a terminal hindrance.

The apprehensions associated with just surviving, aspirations of happiness, the fear of death and oblivion have all played into the hands of evolutionary inspired defence mechanisms producing mental scenarios where wishful thinking has overridden our most wonderful and unique capacity for reasoned evaluation. For most of history and without an understanding of the universe we belong to, explanations of nature became unevidenced speculation equalling our lack of knowledge of the time.

Being a herd animal has seen these explanations formalised in religions and ideologies that have served as immutable philosophical cornerstones. The very questioning of the veracity of such precepts invoked only harsh calls of heresy with correspondingly severe punishments.

Ever so slowly evolving in parallel and more often than not in opposition to a speculative worldview was scientific investigation. From tenacious minds, up against the overwhelming odds of sacred scrit, came logically irrefutable proclamation shaking the foundations of previously held ‘truths’. Eventually this way of codifying the investigation of nature produced the universally accepted ‘scientific-method’. No longer was knowledge dependant on religious absolutes but on the highest-probability of any statement being true, false or indeterminate.

Human history can therefore be divided into two distinctly dissimilar parts. They are the ‘absolute guessing’ period, comprising most of history and the ‘highest probability’ period of only some few hundred years. Not long after this momentous transition and as a consequence, restrictions to free-inquiry expanded into all areas of social and political life. The individual suddenly developed the right to freedom of thought and expression. Democratic ideals, repressed for thousands of years by the many forms of ‘absolute guessing’, sprang into the political arena.

Confronted by the new, the old crumbled and retreated, forever giving ground, eventually hiding in the still unresolved parts of scientific knowledge. There it remains to this day, supported only by the remnants of an ancient and long-standing evolutionary produced ‘Enemy Within’.

Thousands upon thousands of years being moulded by a less than adequate understanding of nature have yielded remarkably quickly to a relatively newly reasoned description of the cosmos. Equal time, by extrapolation, will herald obliteration of superstitious guessing, existing only then in history books.

But, be warned, ‘The Enemy Within’ has never been one for sleeping. It can lay dormant in our subconscious, just waiting for the right adverse circumstances, then once again leap onto the stage of human affairs with a willingness to express its absurd right by might. The only effective weapon against ‘The Enemy Within’ is constant vigilance. To every human this is not an option, but a duty.

By David Nicholls