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Response to LuvNewcastle (Original post)

Thu Dec 18, 2014, 10:12 PM

10. The Parable of the Tribes


In nature, all pursue survival for themselves and their kind. But they can do so only within biologically evolved limits. The living order of nature, though it has no ruler, is not in the least anarchic. Each pursues a kind of self- interest, each is a law unto itself, but the separate interests and laws have been formed over aeons of selection to form part of a tightly ordered harmonious system. Although the state of nature involves struggle, the struggle is part of an order. Each component of the living system has a defined place out of which no ambition can extricate it. Hunting- gathering societies were to a very great extent likewise contained by natural limits.

With the rise of civilization, the limits fall away. The natural self-interest and pursuit of survival remain, but they are no longer governed by any order. The new civilized forms of society, with more complex social and political structures, created the new possibility of indefinite social expansion: more and more people organized over more and more territory. All other forms of life had always found inevitable limits placed upon their growth by scarcity and consequent death. But civilized society was developing the unprecedented capacity for unlimited growth as an entity. (The limitlessness of this possibility does not emerge fully at the outset, but rather becomes progressively more realized over the course of history as people invent methods of transportation, communication, and governance which extend the range within which coherence and order can be maintained.) Out of the living order there emerged a living entity with no defined place.

In a finite world, societies all seeking to escape death- dealing scarcity through expansion will inevitably come to confront each other. Civilized societies, therefore, though lacking inherent limitations to their growth, do encounter new external limits – in the form of one another. Because human beings (like other living creatures) have "excess reproductive capacity," meaning that human numbers tend to increase indefinitely unless a high proportion of the population dies prematurely, each civilized society faces an unpleasant choice. If an expanding society willingly stops where its growth would infringe upon neighboring societies, it allows death to catch up and overtake its population. If it goes beyond those limits, it commits aggression. With no natural order or overarching power to prevent it, some will surely choose to take what belongs to their neighbors rather than to accept the limits that are compulsory for every other form of life.

In such circumstances, a Hobbesian struggle for power among societies becomes inevitable. We see that what is freedom from the point of view of each single unit is anarchy in an ungoverned system of those units. A freedom unknown in nature is cruelly transmuted into an equally unnatural state of anarchy, with its terrors and its destructive war of all against all.

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LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 OP
adirondacker Dec 2014 #1
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #9
adirondacker Dec 2014 #15
hifiguy Dec 2014 #21
zeemike Dec 2014 #23
hifiguy Dec 2014 #2
JEB Dec 2014 #4
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #5
adirondacker Dec 2014 #13
WHEN CRABS ROAR Dec 2014 #14
mountain grammy Dec 2014 #19
Odin2005 Dec 2014 #24
WillTwain Dec 2014 #3
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #7
hifiguy Dec 2014 #8
GeorgeGist Dec 2014 #6
LineReply The Parable of the Tribes
The2ndWheel Dec 2014 #10
jtuck004 Dec 2014 #11
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #17
Tierra_y_Libertad Dec 2014 #12
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #18
jwirr Dec 2014 #16
LuvNewcastle Dec 2014 #20
jwirr Dec 2014 #22
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