The Old Ways are Best (A new look at human society)

THE OLD WAYS ARE BEST
by Edward M. Drapkin Sr. 09/28/2013

Humanity has spent a large amount of time and energy trying to find an acceptable way to govern itself.  We have tried many different forms of government, from theocracy to monarchy to democracy to socialism to fascism.  All these attempts have failed.  None of these philosophies have proven themselves to be capable of establishing a stable government that can last more than a few hundred years.  Even the Great Experiment of the democratically elected republic in the USA is now floundering.

A truly stable government appears to have been elusive thus far.  It’s enough to make one wonder if it is even possible for such a government to exist.  It may be that a stable government is an unachievable goal.  Perhaps we need to take a fresh look at the concept of governing.  By looking at it from a new perspective, we might see some unexpected but enlightening possibilities that could lay the groundwork for producing a governmental structure that is more stable than any previously attempted.

The basic postulate for this new perspective is: those who will be governing, and are to be governed, are human beings.  If we are to understand what would make a successful government, then it will be necessary to understand human nature.  The definition of human nature, as used here, is, “the collection of qualities that define human behavior.”  To define those qualities it is necessary to understand how they developed.  To do this requires a look at all of human history.

PART 1: THE PAST

HUMAN HISTORY

The earliest tool using hominids date back 2.6 million years.  The best archeological evidence available today shows that the modern human first appeared some 200,000 years ago, and that agriculture was invented about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago and took thousands of years to spread across all humanity.

The invention of agriculture changed everything.  It marked the beginning of civilization.

Before agriculture, all humans were hunter/gatherers and scavengers. This means that for about 95% of the time modern humans existed, we were hunter/gatherers who roamed the countryside.  We had to go where the food was.  If we start at the time of the first tool users then 99% plus of human history occurred before agriculture. It was during this period of time that human nature developed.

Humans have always had a dual perception of the world.  First there is the physical world which we perceive through our senses; the world we can touch, taste, feel, hear and see.  Secondly, there is spirituality; the belief that something beyond the physical world exists. This belief stems from the fact that a vast majority of people have spiritual experiences; feeling connected to something that the senses cannot perceive. This connection has led people to conclude that there was also something inside themselves that was not perceivable.  This developed into the concept of a spirit or soul.  The earliest evidence of this belief is in funeral rites and rituals.  Respect for the bodies of the dead was a demonstration of this belief in a human spirit or soul.   Archeological evidence shows that funeral rituals were being used by early humans as far back as 225,000 years ago. This is 25,000 years earlier than the appearance of modern humans.  Modern humans have lived with spirituality throughout their entire history.

By the time of the invention of agriculture, human nature was well adapted to the lifestyle that humans had been living for tens of thousands of years.  Looking at the lifestyle of the hunter/gatherer makes it easier to understand human nature today.  The last 5,000 to 12,000 years have not been long enough to erase, or even significantly alter, the adaptations that evolved during the previous 190,000 plus years.

LIFE AS A HUNTER/GATHERER

As hunter/gatherers, people would band together into groups of anywhere from 10 to more than 100 people.  It is believed that the average group consisted of about 50 people. These groups (or tribes) had one primary concern: the survival and continuation of the group.  Survival consisted of acquiring food and protection from predators, the environment, and other tribes.  Continuation meant having children who survived and bringing in new blood to avoid inbreeding.  When these concerns were met there was time for art, music, storytelling and social interactions.

Acquiring food was the most immediate need and highest priority of the tribe.  Food could be gotten three ways:  By gathering, by hunting and by scavenging.

The first way was gathering edible plants, fruits and nuts.  Individuals could do this, however a small group working together could gather more food than the same number of people working independently.  There were times when members of several tribes wanted to gather from the same area.  This led to competitiveness and conflict – especially when the local food supply was limited.  There were no rules.  Gathering the most for one’s own tribe was the goal.  Co-operation, competitiveness and combativeness became necessary survival skills among the gatherers.

The second way was hunting.  Successful hunting almost always required a group effort.  Most animals were either faster or more dangerous than the humans.  If game was scarce and multiple tribes were hunting in the same area, there was competition and the opportunity for conflict.  This made aggressiveness, co-operation, competitiveness and combativeness survival skills among the hunters.

The third way was scavenging.  People would occasionally encounter a predator animal’s kill and be able to salvage some for his own tribe.  It was more likely that someone would discover the location of another tribe’s food stores and raid it to add to the food for his own tribe.  A scavenger had to put the survival of his own tribe above the survival of the tribe he was raiding.  To accomplish this it was necessary for him to think of the other tribe’s members as being different from the members of his own tribe.  A successful scavenger had to objectify the other tribe’s members.  This led to even more conflict between tribes. Any scavenging required speed and a degree of cleverness to collect the found food before the predator or other tribe returned.  This made aggressiveness, co-operation, competitiveness and objectification necessary survival skills among the scavengers.

Because of the need to acquire food, both competitiveness and co-operation became highly prized attributes within the tribe.  Co-operation required that there be an agreement in objectives and method.  This led to a need for leadership; someone who the others could trust to co-ordinate their actions so that they could work together effectively.

There was also a need to co-ordinate the efforts of the food providers and the other groups within the tribe (tool makers, music makers, etc.). People had skills that would allow them to be part of multiple groups within the tribe. Someone had to decide which group a person should be in; based on the person’s skills and the needs of that group.  Someone also had to make decisions affecting the entire tribe’s welfare.  For the tribe to survive and continue there was a role that had to be filled: a tribal leader.  For the tribal leader to be able to fulfill his role, the loyalty, obedience and support of the other members of the tribe were needed.

To keep his position, the tribal leader had to keep the support of the rest of the tribe.  He had to make good decisions that improved the tribe’s security and avoid decisions that hurt the tribe.  To help him, the leader would gather some of the tribe’s wisest people to act as advisors.  When a leader’s skill in providing for the tribe waned, it became necessary to find a new leader or the group’s survival would be put at risk. One of the old leader’s advisors would be the most likely choice for the new leader.

Spirituality within the tribe was another matter.  Many people experienced difficulty understanding their spiritual experiences.  People would then turn to the member of the tribe they felt had the best spiritual understanding.  Since people could not see or understand the reason that they got sick, they considered sickness a spiritual matter.  They would turn to the same person to help them in both spiritual and health matters.  This person, who the people perceived as having the ability to heal and strengthen the people in the tribe, would become the spiritual leader; a shaman or a medicine man. The wisdom and knowledge of the tribe became the shaman’s realm.  It became his responsibility to see that the tribe’s knowledge and wisdom were passed on from generation to generation.  The preservation of this knowledge and wisdom was essential for the tribe’s survival.  The shaman would also have helpers and apprentices.

These tribes did not live in isolation.  They were surrounded by other tribes, each one doing their best to survive. This led to constant competition.  When food was scarce, the competition grew fierce.  If the land could not support all the tribes on it, there would be war among the tribes; each one fighting for its own survival.  When the population was reduced by warfare to a number that the land could support, the fighting would end.  Scattered members of decimated tribes would migrate into the surviving tribes, adding to the tribe’s gene pool.  Even when the land could support all the people living on it, there were continual squabbles over the places for hunting and gathering.

The survival of the tribe made it necessary for people to fill a variety of roles within it. Most of the people in the tribe would have been followers; loyal, obedient and willing to follow the directions of the leaders.  This made those qualities survival traits. These people were the work force of the tribe. They had to be adaptable. They might be hunters, fighters, gatherers or fill any of the other needs of the tribe.  They needed to be competitive, combative, aggressive, co-operative and loyal.

Some people were leaders; willing to make decisions that would benefit the tribe. Leaders needed to have all the qualities of the followers, plus they needed to be intelligent enough to be able to observe and make correct decisions, charismatic enough to keep the loyalty of the people, and spiritual enough for the tribe to feel they were in spiritually harmony with them.

Another essential person was the shaman; the chief advisor and healer of the tribe. He would have been spiritual enough to make others comfortable with their spiritual experiences, intelligent enough to provide guidance concerning the problems at hand, inquisitive enough to try to find new knowledge and wisdom for the tribe, a good enough teacher to pass the knowledge on to the next generation, observant enough to discover new things in the world around him, and clever enough to use these discoveries for the tribe’s benefit.

This is a very rough picture of the culture of the hunter/gatherers.  However, it is clear enough to see that the people living before agriculture had to develop certain attitudes, feelings and perceptions of the world to be able to survive. These attitudes, feelings and perceptions became human nature and included:

  • Most importantly, they had to be social and co-operative. There was an inherent need to belong to a group, work co-operatively with others within the group, and accept the judgments of its leaders.  An individual who was competing with a tribe for food had virtually no chance of surviving.  A tribe with conflict within itself would lose to a co-operative tribe.
  • They had to be loyal to their tribe and to feel that their contributions were helping the tribe survive.
  • They had to become a part of one or more of the groups within the tribe and have the necessary skills to fulfill those roles.
  • They had to be part of a tribe that was limited in size.  The bigger a tribe was, the more mouths there were to feed.  More people meant reduced mobility for the tribe.  A large tribe became too cumbersome to control easily.  If a tribe got too big, it would have to split into two tribes with each going their own way.  People were most comfortable living in a tribe of 50 to 100 people; large enough to have a pool of all the needed survival skills and small enough not to be cumbersome.
  • They had to be aggressive in both hunting, and competing for food and territory with other tribes.
  • They had to be competitive: the tribe that hunts, gathers, and fights the best, survives best.
  • They had to be combative and ruthless: If there was not enough food for multiple tribes to survive, they had to eliminate their competition if they were to survive.  This, in addition to scavenging, led to objectification. If they saw the members of the other tribe as being human with the same needs and feelings that they had, they would not be able to kill the others and both tribes would fail.  Objectification was necessary for the tribe’s survival.
  • They had to have righteous indignation; while it was okay for them to raid another tribe’s food, it was not okay to have some other tribe steal theirs.  This was perhaps the first double standard.
  • They had to see anything that did not already belong to the tribe as free for the taking.
  • They had to accept that people held spiritual beliefs.  No one knows what those beliefs were, but each person would have to reconcile his beliefs with the world and the tribe around him.
  • They had to be greedy.  Greedy here means a desire to obtain more than required to satisfy one’s immediate needs.  Storing more food than was required for immediate survival would help them to survive longer through bad times.
  • As demonstrated by the known migrations throughout pre-history, they could be co-operative with other tribes in times of great need.  Moving a large group of tribes had a much better chance of success than each tribe struggling on their own.
  • They had to be inquisitive and intelligent; to discover new foods, new cures for diseases, new ways to prepare food, new tools and new ways to make tools or make them better.  All this contributed to the tribe’s survival.

This then is a list of some of the qualities that were human nature at the time agriculture was invented.  These qualities were not considered virtues or faults – they were simply the qualities that were needed to survive.  They existed because they worked. People who lacked these qualities did not survive and reproduce.  In addition to having these qualities, the tribes were social and were willing to share new knowledge with other tribes as long as the sharing did not threaten their own survival.

THE GREAT INVENTION

About 12,000 years ago, somebody came up with a new idea:  Instead of roaming the countryside in search of food already growing, it could be planted and its growth could be watched and nurtured so that the crops would produce more food for the tribe.

This discovery changed the world.  People could make food grow where they wanted by planting the seeds. It was the invention of agriculture.

The idea of growing food had a significant impact on human society.  The tribe could no longer be mobile.  They had to stay where the food was planted to tend, harvest and protect it from weeds, animals, birds, insects and other tribes.

Before agriculture, tribal structure was well established and each person in the tribe knew his place, and knew that his place was important to his tribe. After agriculture, that was no longer true.  The roles and their importance to the tribe’s survival had changed. Did they really need hunters when they could grow more than enough food?    Were gatherers content to be farmers?

In other words, while the tribe’s survival was more secure than ever before, the people were probably discontented.  They were forced to abandon roles and attitudes that humanity had held for tens of thousands of years, and they had to adapt to new roles and conditions that had never existed before.

Growing food required significantly less land than gathering.  When the tribe settled on the land they farmed, they discovered that they could now grow more food than could be consumed. This excess food allowed for more people to become a part of the tribe and the tribe got bigger.

This and the changing roles within the tribe created psychological stresses that had never existed before.  People, by their nature, could accept only a small number of people as members of their tribe, and those beyond that number were considered outsiders.  They could not help feeling this way.  It was how they had lived for the last 200,000 years.  The tribe had become too big.

Loyalty to such a large group was not possible for some of the people.  The stress of living in such a large community was more than they could endure.  To cope with this stress they would abandon the rules and behaviors of the large group and either act independently or attach their loyalty to a smaller group of people within the tribe who were like themselves.  The rules and accepted behaviors of the large group were ignored by these people. They found that they had to disregard those rules and behaviors and make their own.  These rules and behaviors inevitably were the same ones that had worked so well in the pre-agriculture society.

While the rest of the community was struggling to find ways to live together in harmony, the people who rejected the community’s rules were creating chaos in their midst. They were asocial or antisocial.  They saw most of the community members as outsiders, and therefore treated them as outsiders were treated in the tribal days.  They threatened the security of rest of the community.  They became the criminals of society.

The unity of the community was shattered.  Chaos ensued.  Something had to be done.  Farming clearly had benefits that the tribe did not want to give up, yet how could they maintain a community of people who were not able to live together in the numbers that agriculture allowed?

A way was found; expand the power of the leadership in the community. This would enable them to control the actions of the larger group of people.  However, they needed to expand authority and convince the people to obey their enhanced leadership. For this, they turned to the only other authority that people recognized: the spiritual leader.  The people had to believe that the leadership was following spiritual direction and could not be questioned.  The shaman had to become more than just a spiritual leader.  He had to become the official intermediary between the people, the leadership and spirituality.  He had to be able to declare certain actions as righteous (pleasing to the spirits) and other actions as sinful. He had to demonstrate to the people that the spirits approved of the community’s leadership. This combination of increased powers worked.   Obedience to the leader became not only a civil matter, but also a spiritual one.  This was not a radical change from pre-agriculture tribal structure – it was only a change of degree, and the people could accept it.

However, this change carried a price.  The new rules could not change human nature.  Although the people were more obedient, they were still unhappy.  People were still used to living in small groups.  Although people were now able to live together as a large community, they had lost the comradery and closeness of the old tribe and there was a new sense of distance from the other people within the community.  As the population of the communities grew, the number of people who could not cope with it grew.  The criminal class increased.

People began to find ways to compensate for what they had lost and the stress of this new society.  Some would try to gain as much personal power as they could by acquiring property and making themselves masters over others.

Community leaders would use any method they could to hold on to their power while others were trying to pull them down and replace them.  Another way community leaders kept their power was to divert human combativeness toward the criminals within the community. The leaders would also claim that other communities were a threat and were their enemies.  Having a common enemy reinforced the comradery of the community.  Fighting against others helped the people feel better by venting some of the pressures that were created by their human nature.  This also may have been the beginning of using fear as a means to control the people.

Spiritual leaders went beyond merely supporting the local government and used their positions to try to gain power over the people through their spiritual lives.  They came up with new laws and rituals that the people had to follow and the first religions were born.  Religion also gave the people another reason to fight with others.  These early religions did not last long as they were primarily dependent on the charisma and authority of a single individual leader. They were quickly replaced by new religions founded by new leaders trying new ways to control the people.  It took some time before anyone came up with the idea of making laws and rituals that would help people to live spiritually while at the same time keeping them under control. When this happened the first genuine organized religion appeared.

Agriculture, the domestication of food plants, was the first step on the road to technology.  It was followed by the domestication of food animals, which led to the domestication of other animals, which led to improvements in farming and transportation, and so on.  Each step on this road led people further and further away from the culture they were adapted to; the simple life of the pre-agriculture tribe.  Each step allowed people to live in more concentrated populations. They went from tribe to community to town to city to state to empire.  Each step improved the probability of survival to the point that mere survival is not even a consideration for most of the population of the developed world today.

PART 2: THE PRESENT

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

The problem is, while humans have improved their living conditions, human nature has not significantly changed since the pre-agricultural times of 10,000 years ago.  This point has not been considered as our society and government have developed and we search for ways to cope with the consequences of our technology.  Although people now live in more physical comfort than ever before and enjoy better communication, transportation, and education, we are uncomfortable living in conditions that are so different from the ones we, as humans, are adapted to.

If we are to find a more successful way to govern ourselves, we need to find a way to keep the advantages that technology has given us, while at the same time, forming a social and political structure that is, as much as possible, in harmony with our human nature.

You may question if these qualities, which we have defined as human nature, are still as much a part of human behavior as they were 10,000 years ago.  It took as much as 5,000 years or more for the idea of agriculture to slowly spread across the human population.  It took even longer for society to reach the point that cities became a possibility.  Although there have been some changes to human nature, they are, at best, minimal.  There simply hasn’t been enough time for any major changes to occur.

The qualities and behaviors described above as human nature can be seen in today’s world.  For example, loyalty is seen in patriotism, political parties, street gangs, social movements, business ethics, social clubs and a host of other activities. Aggressiveness can be seen in terrorist organizations, military objectives, political elections, accepted business practices, sports team management, social organizations, schools and just about every other aspect of our lives.  Competitiveness shows up in  sports, games, politics, educational testing, business advertising and elsewhere.  Combativeness is clearly visible in our military exploits, gang warfare, political campaigning, and sports.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that the qualities of human nature that were present in the pre-agriculture tribes are still present today.

Many of these qualities can be viewed as positive or negative depending on where and how they are manifested.  Consider loyalty.  Loyalty to one’s family, business (or employer), community, government or military commander is considered to be good.  Loyalty to one’s street gang, anti-social group, leader or ideology, that the majority believes is wrong, is considered bad.  This appears to be a part of human nature.

What is true of loyalty is true for all human qualities; combativeness can be good when you are fighting against an aggressor or bad when dealing with your neighbor. Aggression can be good when it helps overcome obstacles and reach a positive goal. It is bad when one hurts others for personal gain.  Intelligence can be good when used for problem solving, or bad when used to deceive and control others.

We cannot even follow a basic rule like, “Thou shalt not commit murder.” Killing was a necessary part of our pre-agriculture lives, and is still acceptable today under certain circumstances.  Yet we still have murder.  Why?

To answer that question, we need to look at the life of an individual in pre-agriculture times.  He had to be able to kill on a moment’s notice if his tribe was being threatened.  However, the people it was acceptable to kill were those who had to be objectified because they were an outside threat to his tribe.  If he murdered someone in the tribe, he would have violated the trust that the tribe needed to survive and would be ejected from the tribe or killed.  This made killing an enemy was acceptable, while murder a non-survival act to be avoided.

Today, people live in immensely larger groups than the pre-agriculture tribes.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for one to feel the same comradery and loyalty to all the people in his community that the tribal member felt towards his tribe.  This leads to an objectification of members of his own community. As the community’s numbers have grown larger, an individual’s anonymity within the group becomes greater.  This makes it easier for him to feel separated from the community and harder for the community to perceive the individual’s isolation.  In other words, the large community is creating its own criminals, and the larger the community, the more serious the crime problem.

The path we have taken, which has failed to take human nature into consideration, has led to different forms of government which all have these common characteristics:

1)      Decisions that affect many people are made by a few.
2)      There is no guarantee these few people will consider the best interest of the general population when they make decisions.
3)      Political power is directly related to economic wealth.

This results in a general dissatisfaction among the population.  It represents a danger to individual freedom when too much power and wealth is concentrated in a small group.

This situation has created a crisis in the United States.  Most of the people who have acquired great wealth are those who value money for the power it gives them.  As they gain more money, they gain more power which they will use to gain more money… and so on.  This has reached a level in the U.S. where elected representatives no longer represent the electorate but instead represent the very rich who financed their election campaign.  The representatives do not have much choice in this.  If they choose to represent the people of their constituency rather than the campaign financiers, their campaign funds will dry up, they will not be able to get re-elected, and will be replaced by a newly elected official whom the wealthy believe will represent their interests.  The evidence of this is quite clear in the 2013 Congress:

  • The failure of Congress to pass any kind of gun control legislation even when a vast majority of the population has been for it.
  • The failure of Congress to stop the sequester, which hurts a large portion of the population of the United States. However, air traffic controller’s cuts were quickly reinstated when it had inconvenienced the rich.
  • The fact that none of the Wall Street bankers who were responsible for the economic recession of 2008 has been charged or prosecuted, even though evidence exists that laws were broken.
  • The fact that, while the sequester spending cuts are hurting the economy and the population, Congress is pushing to spend more money for an expensive new tank that the military does not need or want.
  • The fact that multi-billion dollar corporations pay less income tax that the average citizen.

This has also created a crisis in Europe.  Money is power and one way to get money is by borrowing it.  The nations in Europe have borrowed their way to wealth and power.  In doing so, they created a level of debt that is now dragging down all the nations of the EEC.  Attempts to use austerity measures to try to reduce this debt have led to social unrest.

This has also created a crisis in the Middle East.  The world’s dependence on Middle East oil has created a concentrated wealth which allows Islamic theocracy to flourish there and Islamic extremists to threaten the security of the rest of the world.

It is not just our social structure that is creating our current problems; it is also our governmental structure and economic policies.

PART 3: THE FUTURE

A SOLUTION

How can we create a society that is free of the stresses that cause people to become criminals, while at the same time, allowing for maximum individual freedom and form an environment which is not contrary to human nature?

The first, most obvious and critical answer, is to keep communities small.  Why?  There are several reasons:

1)      The pre-agriculture tribes were small and humans are adapted to living and working in small groups.  Living in small groups would alleviate the societal pressures that have resulted in much of the psychological illnesses and anti-social behavior so prevalent in today’s society.
2)      There is a limit to the number of people with whom an individual can maintain a social relationship.  In a small community the people could be personally acquainted with each other, virtually eliminating objectification within the community.
3)      As a result of the first two points, loyalty to the community would be very strong, and aberrant behavior by an individual would be much more noticeable and could be dealt with before it became dangerous.
4)      The likelihood of everyone moving toward a common goal would be much greater in a small community.
5)      If a community grows too large, the people in it will stratify which would destroy the unity of the community.
6)      Removing the stresses caused by living in large communities should be sufficient to eliminate most of the problems faced by society today.  The rest could be managed by the adaptability and problem solving skills that are also a part of human nature.
7)      It would lead to a decentralization of population, power, and wealth which in turn would result in a reduced risk of becoming a terroristic or wartime target.

Living in small communities is clearly a good idea.  The next question is how could we build a viable social and political structure based on people living in small communities?

This is a suggested solution.

Certain rights must be guaranteed for each individual or family.  First and foremost, every person must have the right to leave any community at any time, except when facing punitive action for crimes committed.  No one can be forced to remain a member of a community they wish to leave.  Secondly, other than the prescribed punishment for committing a crime, a community may not make any law or rule that hurts any members of the community.  Third, every person must have access to the information network so that they can develop informed opinions on any issue facing the community, the nation, or the world.  Finally, any individual must have the right to appeal any decision or dispute to a higher level of government.

The government of the small community must be the primary source of social and political order for the individuals in that community.  Higher levels of government must exist only to serve the communities by resolving issues that arise between communities, or infrastructure issues that extend beyond a single community.

Each community must be free to govern itself in any manner, with only minimal restrictions. There must be no outside influences dictating how a community must be run.  They must also be free to change their chosen government at any time.

This may sound extreme, but it would turn out to be self-limiting.  How many people would be willing to stay in a community where you must prostrate yourself whenever ‘royalty’ is in sight?  How long would a white supremacist community last if all the other communities around them were multi-cultural and chose not to have dealings with them?  There would still be extremist communities, but their own extremism would limit their membership, and their extremism would be limited to that community.  Extremism would have a far lesser impact on society than it does today.

The power of any one leader or community would be limited. No individual, or group, would have the authority to govern more than a single community.  No one would have the authority to say what is right or wrong for any community other than his own. It would be possible for a communist community to peacefully co-exist and interact with a democratic community.  Each community would have the right to believe what they want, practice what they believe, and share their beliefs as long as they did not try to force them on other communities or their members.  The rule would be, “no one will tell you how to run your community and you will not tell anyone else how to run theirs.”

Communities with similar ideas or beliefs might want to band together. There would be nothing to stop them.  However, each community would remain autonomous and there would be no legal binding on any of the participating communities.  The leadership of each individual community would always hold ultimate responsibility for their community’s actions. Communities that are not within the group would not recognize any authority the banded communities might decide they have.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Can someone from one community enter another and break its rules?  How could this be stopped?  To accomplish this there would need to be some specific rules about crime and punishment.  A community could set up any laws or rules, and any punitive action for violating them that it wishes for itself.  A crime would be defined as an action taken by any individual or group against any community or one of its members that violates the laws or rules of an involved community.

There could be up to three communities involved in the resolution of a crime – the offender’s community, the victim’s community and the community where the crime took place. (More communities may be involved if the crime involves multiple offenders, victims and/or locations.)  There would be specific rules on when and how the rules and laws are enforced.

1)      If an action takes place that is not against the laws of any of the involved communities, then no crime has taken place.
2)      If a crime takes place outside the community that defined it, and neither the offender nor the victim are members of that community, then the community will have no say in the matter – they are not an involved community.
3)      If only one of the involved community’s laws have been violated, then that community’s laws must be satisfied.
4)      If the laws of more than one community have been violated, then the community which has the most severe penalty must be satisfied first, followed, in order, by the communities with lesser penalties.
5)      When a crime has been committed by a person who is not a member of the involved community, that community must impose the same penalty that would be imposed on one of its own members.
6)      An offender would be required to accept the punitive actions from all the involved communities whose laws were violated.

If any party, individual, or community is not satisfied with the resolution of a crime they may appeal the decision to the next higher level of the government.  In considering an appeal it will be assumed that every member of a community is aware of, and has agreed to, the laws of his own community.

Appeals can only be based on:

1)      A miscarriage of justice – conviction on false, misleading, or insufficient evidence.
2)      New evidence or other relevant information that was not available at the time of conviction.
3)      Prejudice – the law or punitive action is NOT applied equally to all offenders.
4)      A failure to inform – the community did not take every reasonable action to inform visitors or members of other communities of its law that was violated.
5)      Conspiracy – reason to believe that evidence was manufactured to unfairly convict.
6)      Poor representation – a failure to produce legitimate evidence or circumstance at the time of conviction.

A community may police itself in any manner it chooses.

AUTONOMY

Each community would need to be completely autonomous, except in matters affecting other communities or the nation as a whole.   The only people who would be familiar enough with all the needs, desires, likes, dislikes, beliefs, and tastes of any community would be its members.  Only the members of a community would have enough information to make decisions for that community.

Every community ought to be fully self-supporting, rejecting outside contributions. To maintain autonomy, dependency on other communities, individuals, businesses, or special interests must be avoided.  This is not to say that a community cannot borrow in times of need.  However, the terms of the loan must be strictly financial and never include any kind of favors.   Property that belongs to the community as a whole cannot be used as collateral.  No entity that is not a part of a community would ever be allowed to own property within it.  Personal property within the community is handled in any manner deemed acceptable by the community.

For a community to be self-supporting it must have an income and be able to provide for all of the community’s needs.  Every community must decide how it will fund itself.  A community can derive income from any financial activity which involves at least one member, or property, within the community.

A community would not need to produce everything needed by that community.  There could be a manufacturing community that sells their products to be able to purchase food from a farming community.  The farming community would then have the funds to purchase manufactured products from the first community.  This would allow communities to focus on a single product or service and excel at what they do, thus making their products or services more valuable to others.  Dependency would be unacceptable; interdependency would be encouraged.

Every community would determine which products and services it will allow, prohibit, or require within it. Example: “Our community does not allow firearms.” / “Every member of this community is required to have a firearm.” / “You may keep your guns in this community provided you follow the rules we have established.”

LARGE BUSINESSES

There would still be a need for large manufacturing plants and other large businesses.  In some cases it might take a number of investors from multiple communities to provide enough manpower or capital to make an operation workable.  In such a case, the business would become a multi-community business or MCB.  Investors could be individuals, groups of people, businesses or even communities as a whole.  Each of the investors would have an equal stake in the enterprise.    The workers may get wages and the remainder of the company’s profits could be either divided among the supporting communities, the workers or reinvested in the business.  Any arrangements that meet these requirements could be made as long as all the supporting communities and the workers agreed to them.

No single individual, group, business, or community would be able to own and control a MCB.  If the business was started by an individual or group within a single community, that person or group would be appropriately compensated when it becomes a MCB.

The land, buildings, machinery, and supplies used by a multi-community business would belong, in equal shares, to all the entities that own a share of the enterprise. Each participating community could have its own residential real estate.  A MCB cannot own property in any community.  It may rent or lease as seems necessary.  A MCB would be considered as a special community when it has facilities located outside any regular community.  When a MCB closes down all of its assets would have to be liquidated and any profit or loss distributed equally among the participating shareholders.

CORPORATIONS

The sole purpose of a corporation is to protect the personal assets of the owners and investors of a business venture.  A corporation can own property that is within the confines of its home community and an equal share of the assets of a MCB.  A corporation may not own any property that is located in any community other than its own.  A corporation, community, group, or individual may not own more than one equal share of any multi-community business with the following limitations:

1)      If a community owns a share of a MCB, then no other entity within that community can own a share of it.
2)      A corporation may not own a share of a MCB if any individual or group associated with the corporation owns a share in it.
3)      Only one corporation within a community can own a share of any given MCB.

Any further rules, laws, or regulations governing a corporation are to be determined by the community.  A community would not be required to have corporations.

A share in a MCB may be owned by a corporation, an individual, a group, a community business, or a community as a whole.  How a share is acquired is to be determined by the existing shareholders of the business and the entity acquiring a share.  All shares, regardless of ownership, must be treated equally.  A community, corporation, individual, or group may withdraw from a large business venture by receiving payment from the other parties equal to its share of the value of the company.  The remaining shareholders would still own equal interest in the enterprise.

A MCB may not own shares in any other business venture.

REAL ESTATE

There would be no fixed physical size for communities.  The community’s location and amount of land would be determined by its needs.  A fishing community would need access to waterways.  A farming community would need more land than one dedicated to restaurants or retail sales.  Some communities might not need any land (for example traveling entertainers or lecturers).  In selecting land for a new community, any land belonging to an existing community could not be considered unless the existing community has freely ceded to it.

DIVERSITY

Every community would be unique.  This uniqueness could only be preserved if people in any given community accept that people in other communities would have different beliefs, ideas, and ways of doing things.  The diversity of communities would prove to be the strength of the nation.  It will give the nation as a whole a flexibility that has never before been possible.  If all communities were required to believe, think, and do the same things, then creativity and innovation would be suppressed and our nation would rapidly fall behind others in all areas.

People and communities change, and as they do, their values and beliefs may change.  Some people may find themselves in a community that no longer fits their beliefs and values.  Such people must be free to leave a community that no longer fits them.  They must be free to find a community that does fit their needs and apply to join that community. Communities must be required to consider applications for membership.

They must also be free to accept or reject these applications for any reason. A person must also be able to, if he can find enough people to support him, establish a new community based on his ideas and beliefs.  This is very important, as it would act as a moderator of community beliefs and values, since it requires the community to keep itself responsive to its members’ needs or risk losing them and dissolving as a community.

A community must have the authority to eject a member for any reason.  Ejected individuals must leave the property of the community upon request.  The method for determining when and why a member would be ejected would be determined by each community.  However members may not be ejected because they are too old, too young or too disabled to contribute to the community.  Ejection would only be used in the most extreme of circumstances.  A community that is willing to eject one member lightly might be willing to eject another.  This would do serious harm to sense of security that the remaining members would have.

SPIRITUALITY

Throughout history, one of the primary purposes of organized religion has been political power.  The Constitution of the United States outlines one of the earliest and most successful attempts to separate church from government.  And yet, it has proved to be a failure, time and time again, as laws were proposed and passed based on a religious moral ethic.

The political and social structure that is proposed here would virtually eliminate religion’s political role on a national or even a local basis.  A politically powerful church would become non-existent. This would be a good thing.  Instead of trying to push for a national candidate that supports their church, or lobbying for national laws that would follow their church’s beliefs, the churches would be able to concern themselves with the spiritual health and welfare of their congregations.

Needy individuals will always be present in human society. Without a large national government to provide support, it would fall to the churches and the communities to take care of the poor and the suffering.

The major denominations in this country are already losing numbers as instant communication and scientific discoveries offer viable alternatives.  Those churches are now looking for ways to adapt.  If the social and political structure outlined here is put into practice those same churches would have to make even bigger adjustments if they are to survive.  Under this system people will be able to live their spiritual lives any way they want, as long as it does not infringe the rights of others.  Anything would be possible.

A community may have a church exclusively for its members.  A community may establish itself as a church to serve other communities.  A community could require membership in a church or they could require that no one could attend church.

LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES

The leadership of any community, regardless of how the community is ruled, would have certain responsibilities.  Some of these might be:

  • To see that the basic needs of all community members are met.
  • To insure that community rules and laws are followed or modified as needed.
  • To deal with any crime committed in the community or involving any community members.
  • To maintain the infrastructure within the community – power, water, sewage, trash removal, communication, etc.
  • To see that the children are educated to at least all minimum national standards.
  • To insure that health care is available to all members of the community.
  • To insure that the community remains economically solvent.
  • To select a single member to represent them in dealings with other communities and higher levels of government.

Some of these will require the use of resources outside the community.  A health care system would need to be a multi-community enterprise and would provide for the healthcare needs of many communities.  Construction of facilities to support the infrastructure might require the use of an extra-community contractor if no one within the community has the needed skills and equipment.

Communities would need to communicate and have dealings with each other and inevitably there would be friction.  Therefore higher levels of government would be needed.  These higher levels would have the authority to settle issues between communities but, at the same time, have no authority over a community’s internal affairs except when a member of the community requests assistance.

COMMUNITY SIZE

Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist, and a specialist in primate behavior came up with what has come to be known as ‘Dunbar’s number.’  Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.  This number would be the ideal maximum number for a community.  However, Dunbar’s calculation sets this number at a mean of 148 (within a range of 100 to 230 with 95% confidence) while other researchers have arrived at higher numbers (231-290).  It would seem prudent to err on the conservative side and use a low number rather than one that is too high.  A nice round number that is near the middle of the ranges would be 200.  Let that be the maximum community size.  Anthropologists believe that the smallest bands of pre-agriculture hunter/gatherers were about 10 in number.  Let that be the minimum number needed to form a community.

There would be a lot of communities with up to 200 people in each one.  How do we set up a higher level to resolve conflicts and issues between communities?

DISTRICT COMMITTEES

Each community would choose one person as a representative for a district committee.  A district committee will consist of representatives from 2 to 50 communities.  A district committee would be empowered, when asked, to resolve any conflict between communities in their district.  If the communities are able to resolve an issue amongst themselves, the district committee would have no say in the matter.  A district committee would also have the authority to resolve any intra-community dispute that at least one of the involved parties brings before it.

A district committee’s decision on any issue must be based upon a ruling of minimal interference with internal community affairs or failure of a community’s leadership to maintain the minimum standards. If a decision would require one of the communities to make an adjustment, the one that would be least affected would be required to make it.  A committee can never judge whether a community’s rules and laws are right or wrong.  A committee can only rule on whether the application of the law, in a specific case, is harming the individual or group who brought the case before it.

A district committee also would have the authority and responsibility for making decisions that deal with the common welfare and infrastructure of some or all of its member communities. This would include power distribution, intercommunity road maintenance, emergency services, etc.  Any issue that a single community cannot deal with because it would affect other communities becomes the domain of a district committee.

When a group of people wish to start a new community and meet the criteria to do so, the district committee must hear their petition and do its best to allocate appropriate real estate for the new community.  When a district believes it needs more real estate to be able to fulfill the needs of its communities, it must petition the area committee to acquire additional real estate.

A district committee would not be able to deal with any issue that involved another district or a community that is not part of its district.  To resolve these issues a district committee would choose one of its members to represent the district at an area committee.  As communities are to districts, so districts will be to areas, and areas to higher level areas until the point is reached that there is only one committee representing all of the areas, districts and communities.  This committee would become the federal committee.  The federal committee would allocate real estate to the areas, who would then allocate it to the sub-areas to the districts to the communities.

By assuming an average community of 150 people and an average committee of 40 representatives, we can determine how many area levels would be needed.

One community would cover 150 people.
One district would cover 40 communities or 6,000 people.
One sub-area would cover 40 districts or 240,000 people.
One area would cover 40 sub-areas or 9,600,000 people.
One super-area would cover 40 areas or 384,000,000 people. (That’s 70 million more people than currently live in the United States!)
One Federal committee could cover 40 super-areas or 15,360,000,000 (That’s more than twice the current world population!)

If all communities and committees were at their maximum, a single Federal committee would cover over 62 billion people! Only if the world population reaches at least 30 billion people and all of that population was using this as their government, would the possibility of a super federal committee be considered.

PART 4: IMPLIMENTATION

COMMUNITIES

Communities may form with any purposes, beliefs, methods, lifestyles, and government that human ingenuity and imagination can come up with.  However, all communities would have to follow these basic rules:

1)      The welfare of the individuals and family members of the community are the first priority of the community’s leadership and cannot be compromised by any community rules or standards.
2)      A community must take any actions it deems necessary to protect its members from an immediate threat.  A failure to do so would violate the first rule.
3)      The community rules and standards will not apply to any person who is not a member of that community. Rules and standards must be made known to the visitors.
4)      No person can be forced to stay in any community.
5)      No community will acknowledge or have any dealings with a renegade community.
6)      All members of any communities must have unfettered access to the information network.

Any community found to be in violation of these rules must take immediate corrective measures or face becoming a renegade community.  A renegade community would have no status as a legal community entitled to representation and would lose access to the infrastructure.  As a renegade community, the legal communities would not have any economic, or other, dealings with them.

A special community (the facilities of a multi-community business lying outside any regular community) would be considered as a community for taxation purposes, but would be unable to vote on any issue or send representatives to its district.

DISTRICTS

Each community must choose one of its members to be a representative to its district committee.  There will be no constraints on how a community chooses their representative.  A person can only serve as a representative for a maximum of 2 years.  Every representative will be subject to immediate recall by his community, in which case the community is required to immediately choose a replacement representative.  Any representative who has been recalled will be ineligible to serve as a representative again.  Representatives will be required to vote the will of the community or committee they represent.  All representatives must also be willing to assume the responsibilities of the highest level of government.

Each district will be made up of the communities who send representatives to its committee. A district committee is the only body that can determine that a community has violated the above rules.  Each district committee must choose one of its members to represent the district at the area level. The district committee’s actions will be subject to these rules:

1)      The district committee must act on issues between member communities that at least one of the involved communities have brought to it as being unresolvable on the community level.
2)      The district committee must act on issues between members of a single community when at least one of the involved parties have brought the issue to it as being unresolvable at the community level.
3)      The district committee cannot act on any community’s internal issues unless one of the involved parties requests it.
4)      The district committee must act on any issue that involves two or more of its member communities as long as no communities from other districts are involved. This would include decisions about infrastructure within the district.
5)      The district committee cannot act on any issue which involves persons or communities who are not within its district.
6)      Any issue brought before a district committee must be either resolved or sent up to the next level for resolution.
7)      A district may enforce its decisions by any means as determined by the member communities.

AREAS & FEDERAL

These same rules would apply for each of the area levels until the federal level is reached.  At the federal level all these rules will apply with some additions:

1)      All issues that are brought to the federal level must be resolved by the federal committee.
2)      Communication and measurement standards must be set and maintained by the federal committee.
3)      The nation’s armed forces and national defense will be under the control of the federal committee.
4)      The nation’s postal service and immigration will be under the control of the federal committee.
5)      The federal committee will be responsible for creating and maintaining the currency and monetary system to be used by all communities.
6)      The federal committee must finance itself through taxes and maintain a balanced budget except during a declared war.
a)      No direct tax of any individual or community will be permitted.  This includes income taxes or head taxes.
b)      Sales and excise taxes on specific products would be permitted.
c)       Imposts and duties on imported products would be permitted.
d)      Business profit would be taxable and must be graduated.
e)      The federal committee may borrow money ONLY to finance a war effort, and must pay off the acquired debt as quickly as possible upon the cessation of the war effort.
7)      The national infrastructure will be the federal committee’s responsibility.
8)      The federal committee will insure that health care is available to all citizens.
9)      The federal committee will set foreign policy and international relations.

The federal committee must pick members to be first , second, third chair, etc.  The first chair will chair all meetings.  If he is not present the second chair will be the meeting chair.  The first chair will be empowered to make necessary decisions and take appropriate action in the event of an emergency.  If the first chair is unavailable then the second chair will be empowered…and so on.  At least one member of the federal committee must be available at all times.

Any emergency decisions or actions taken by any member of the federal committee must be confirmed by the entire committee and all the communities.  If the committee determines that the decisions or actions were an inappropriate response to the situation, they may take any corrective actions deemed necessary.  These actions can include expelling the member from the federal committee.  The super-area committee that he came from must then choose another member to represent them in the federal committee.

Other than emergency responses, any action taken by the federal committee that affects all of the communities in the nation must be voted on by all of the communities.  Any action taken by any committee at any level must be voted on by all of the affected communities. This does not mean every change must have unanimous approval.  To be approved, an action must have a majority of votes.

Whenever there is an issue to be voted on, each involved community will be allowed one vote.  How that vote is determined will be up to each community.  The community will then publicly post its vote for the district to compile.  The district will publicly post its vote counts for the area to compile.  This will continue up to the level where all affected communities have had their votes counted.

ARMED FORCES

Armed forces will be treated as special communities and each military community will be allowed one vote.  While a person is serving in the military, he will be considered as a member of his military community and not as part of his home community.  Military communities will not have the freedom to choose their government as regular communities can.  The needs of having coordinated and effective armed forces require military discipline and command structure.

Every district must have at least one military community in it. As a part of the district, it will be under the command of the district committee.  This military community will be the district’s law enforcement, disaster control, and criminal investigation.  They may also do other public services as the district requires.  Otherwise, a military community is subject to the same rules as any other community.  A military community may not operate outside its district unless directed to by its area committee, and so on up to the federal level.  The federal committee may call for military action only if:

1)      The nation is attacked by another nation or other outside group.
2)      A war has been declared.
3)      There is a disaster within the nation of proportions so large that it extends beyond the means of any super-area to deal with.
4)      There is a disaster in another nation who has asked for our help.
5)      There is violence or insurrection within the nation on a scale that a super-area is unable to deal with.
6)      There is a declared war involving an allied nation who has asked for our help.

Military training must be such that the collected military communities can function as a single military force.  The training must be coordinated on the federal level so that, in times of need, all the required skills and manpower will be available.  The training must also include indoctrination that the principles on which the nation is built are sacred and not to be violated under any circumstance.  There may be regular exercises with other military communities to insure their ability to work together.

Any person can opt for a career in the military, in which case his military community would become his home community.  Career military personnel must be reviewed every year by their district committee.

REQUIRED SERVICE

Every member of every community would be required to participate in federal service work for a maximum of 2 years.  This may be military service, administrative service or service in other areas.   This service work must be completed by the time the person reaches 40 years of age.  Being the representative for a community would be considered service work.  Except in times of declared war, no one can be required to serve for more than 2 years.

No individual is required to be a part of any community.  However, solitary people will be subject to the rules of any community they visit or interact with.  Solitary people will have no voice in any community or higher level decisions.

DECISION MAKING

The decision making process would be the heart of this social structure.  Each community can make any decisions about its internal workings by whatever means they choose.  When decisions must be made that affect more than one community the issue may move up to the district level.

There are limits on what issues a district committee can address.  It can only address issues where the actions of one or more communities result in negative effects on other communities.   A district, or higher, committee cannot rule on issues of morality or spirituality except when one or more communities are attempting to impose their beliefs on others.  Additionally, they can make a recommendation on any issue that has been brought before them for arbitration.

A district’s decision when settling a dispute must be adhered to by the involved parties.

In matters of making policy, the district committee makes a recommendation.  However the recommendation cannot become effective until all the involved communities within the district have the opportunity to vote on it.  If approved, it then goes into effect.  In case of a tie, the district recommendation goes into effect.  The same is true of area recommendations; all of the involved communities in the area must have the opportunity to voice their opinions and the decision only takes effect if approved by those communities.

On the federal level, all communities must have the opportunity to vote on all decisions that would affect them.  Only in this way can each community be assured that they have a voice in every decision.

Every issue to be voted on must be in the form of a recommendation to be approved or disapproved.  Any additions and/or modifications to the recommendation being voted on must be directly related to the primary recommendation.

Each community will have one vote on any issue.  How that vote is determined is an internal matter for each individual community to decide.  Each community’s vote is to be publicly posted.  Each district then will compile the totals for and against the recommendation. These numbers would also to be publicly posted and submitted to the next level. This continues until the compiled vote count reaches the level that originated the recommendation.  A simple majority is needed to approve or disapprove any recommendation.

This form of voting and decision making will be more democratic than the republic as establish by the U.S. Constitution.  This suggested process would have been impossible at the time the founders were drafting the Constitution.  Indeed, it is only within the last decade or so that the technology to make this workable has been available.

INFORMATION NETWORK

The proposed information network would be the backbone of this social structure.  The use of internet, broadcast radio and television, cellular and land-line phones, and data connections now makes it possible for every community to become aware of events and pending recommendations almost instantly.  The same technology would also allow every community to be able to respond immediately.  A vote by every citizen that would have taken months to compile in the 18th century could now be done in a single day.

Creating and maintaining the infrastructure for this network would be a top priority for the federal committee.  Any action that would pervert or censor the network and interfere with the accurate transmission of information from source to destination would be a federal crime.

Education could be done through this network, except where hands on learning is required.

The network would also be used for communication, music, entertainment, news and opinions, social networking, retail, and other business transactions.

CONCLUSION

This would lead to a healthier society than any previously known because:

  • People would be less stressed since they would be living in communities of a size that humans are adapted to.
  • Communities would have the maximum amount of freedom possible to believe, act, and think whatever they want.  They would also be protected from persecution by others who do not agree with them.
  • It affords the individual the maximum freedom possible.  A person can find and choose to live in a community that matches his beliefs or, if no community like that exists, he may form a new community with those beliefs.
  • It reduces the political power of higher levels of government to only their necessary functions while, at the same time, allows for a quick and appropriate response to any emergency that may arise.
  • It eliminates political campaigning  and power grabbing, by allowing only community leadership and representation to be directly chosen by the people.
  • It allows for the will of the people to prevail in all cases as every citizen will have the opportunity to have a voice in every issue that might affect him, thereby eliminating the possibility of a politician using his position to make decisions for his own personal gain or to benefit a business.
  • It prevents an individual or small group of people from gaining too much economic power through their business dealings.
  • It makes monopolies impossible.

AFTERWORD

As a teenager in the late 1960s, I used to rant about how terrible the ‘establishment’ was and complain about how this was wrong, and they shouldn’t do that.  Finally, my mother must have had enough of it as she turned to me and said, “Fine, the establishment is terrible.  We’ll get rid of it.  What are you going to put in its place?”  Not only did it shut me up (her primary intent, I’m sure), but it got me thinking about an answer.  It was then that I first came up with the idea of a pyramid structure of small communities, but, at that time, I had no idea how it could be made practical.  I also did not know enough about how society and people worked to be able to justify my ideas.

It has taken over 40 years for me to learn enough to understand that my intuition then was good, and that my ideas were sociologically valid.  In that same time, technology has advanced to the point that these ideas have become possible.  None of the ideas or concepts presented here are entirely new.  They have all been used, in one form or another, in many different times and places.  What is new here is this particular combination of these particular ideas being assembled into a structure that is now, for the first time in history, possible and, more to the point, practical.

 

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