Reduced (one of its characteristic terms) to an aphorism, Modernity is basically about believing that, in terms of intelligence and progress ,"the First (largest,newest, most complex) were always and inevitably First ".
And as the First, destined to succeed and endure.
(Also implying that the last are always and inevitably last and doomed to fail).
A simple - and terrible - and terribly wrong - scientific thesis.
Seeing under his microscope that some of the supposed last (bacteria) were in some ways the First (in abilities to do genetic manipulation) led scientist Martin Henry Dawson to conclude the results of this sort of backwater microbial research would have a profound effect on the whole wide science of biology.
And as the key intellect memes in the Era of Modernity were all really just 'applied biology' , the impact could, in theory, go much, much wider.
It didn't, not then at least : for Dawson wasn't the one to lead any sort revolution of words and ideas - only perform a quiet revolution of deeds.
But today the idea that a deep wide genetic pool, well stocked with the intelligence from all possible sizes, complexity and types of beings, is Humanity and the Earth's best insurance against destruction is a commonplace.
It is the meme that holds up the entire intellectual structure that we call postmodernity ...