Friday, May 5, 2017

Super-Organized Societies And The Warrior Culture

Human societies have existed for a long time, between 100,000 and 200,000 years, if the archaeologists are to be believed.  For the vast temporal majority of our tenure, people have lived in simple tribal societies, if the current interpretations of the anthropological record are to be taken as credible and true.  Once again, depending on whether the anthropologists have it right, so-called "super-organized societies" did not come into being until comparatively very recent times.

Even if we assume that the settlement at Çatal Höyök in modern Turkey was a super-organized society, that would place the emergence of such entities at only 9,500 years, a comparatively small chunk of humanities time on earth, thus far.

Today I would like to address the concept of the "super-organized society" and discuss the advantages, as well as the drawbacks of such entities.

First, we must have on hand a definition for "super-organized society"(SOS).  This definition is not quite so easily conjured, but let us begin with the notion of a "superorganism" which one dictionary defines as:


a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes.
a form of life considered as an entity; an animal, plant, fungus, protistan, or moneran.
any organized body or system conceived of as analogous to a living being:

As is readily apparent, the definition may include almost any "higher" living creature, including individual human beings.  We will have to pin this down with greater specificity.  However, definition 3 appears to com very close to that which is pertinent.

It is of some value, however, to note that such organisms are generally constructed with components that are both specialized in their functional role as part of the greater body and that they are generally not well equipped to survive on their own, having become highly dependent upon the totality.  These characteristics are readily identifiable in the super-organized society in that there is a division of labor to such an extent that survivability of any randomly chosen individual is likely to be low in the extended absence of the whole.

Therefore, we may provisionally define "super-organized society" as one of such an architecture where we see specialization of knowledge and skill taking the place of generalized abilities in the individual pursuant to serving the various roles required toward the achievement of super-human endeavors, which are themselves defined as those not readily accomplished by individuals.

One might call it a step in the evolution of men.  Of course, others might call it something very different.

If we take this as the absolute minimum sufficient definition, we may then have a bare minimally sufficient, if still somewhat vague, notion of what constitutes a Super-Organized Society.

For the sake of clarification through comparison, consider the "primitive" society of the tribal anarchy where the populations tend to be small, usually counted in the hundreds or even less, and where the division of labor and the attendant specializations are far less evident.  In such societies, while there were certainly the hunters, as well as a small number of other broad specializations, these were very few in number when compared with what we see today.  Where, for example, the "medicine man" of ancient times embraced a broad avenue of responsibilities, today's analogs inhabit and one of a fairly large number of specialities such as oncology, podiatry, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, ear nose and throat, nephrology, and so on down a considerable list of divisions.

When considering these differences, we see that one of the advantages of the SOS is the vastly augmented base of human knowledge.  Our technologies, whether medical, engineering, or what have you, could not be maintained in a tribal anarchic society because the body of knowledge is itself far too vast for such small numbers to retain in both memory and the ability to apply.  Even with modern cybernetic technologies, a general practitioner of medicine does not break out a how-to video and suddenly find himself capable of performing brain surgery.

When knowledge crosses some foggily defined threshold in terms of volume, complexity, and subtlety, it becomes necessary for humans to pick and choose relatively small chunks of it as vocation in order to be able to accomplish the goals of practice.  A brain surgeon's bailiwick is so complex and subtle, despite being so narrow in the grander scheme of human medical practice, that few if any are able to engage themselves in other specialties precisely because the demands of mastering the needed skills are so very high.

Super-Organization has lead to super-human capability where SOSs are taken as gestalts.

The disadvantages of the SOS are at least as significant as the advantages.  Loss of independence is a major problem from several standpoints.  Firstly and most likely is the fact that interdependence has been very effectively used as a means of political coercion.  Menacing a highly specialized man such as a brain surgeon with removing his ability to purchase food would be a literally life-threatening act. How many brain surgeons do we know who are also capable hunters and gardeners, able to raise their own food?  How many such men would be able to manage both the professional demands, as well as those of their continually emptying stomachs?  Few, if any.

Besides the high potential for political chicanery, there is also the threat of natural disaster.  When such events occur, the specialized people of the SOS are often helpless in the aftermath, incapable of performing for themselves the most basic life-sustaining tasks such as securing food and shelter.  Disasters such as hurricane Katrina bear stark and frightening witness to the dire nature of the straits in which typical men find themselves when all of a sudden the supermarket shelves are empty or no longer accessible.

Broad but relatively shallow knowledge is more valuable under circumstances where self-sufficiency becomes the primary factor in determining one's survival.  Narrow and deep knowledge holds greater value when circumstances are "normal".  Men can take greater risks because the means of minimizing the consequences of failure are at hand.  By this virtue are men able to accomplish greater things.  But when the fundamental infrastructure of the SOS is disrupted sufficiently, the highly specialized knowledge of the average man threatens to become virtually useless to the purposes of one's immediate survival.

And let us once more reiterate the threat posed by tyrants in pursuit of that which they desire.  Such men will use the weaknesses of super-specialization against individuals and even communities in order to have their ways, in the event such people prove resistant to the will of "authority".

Empire is an example of super-organized society.  Empire must perforce be of a super-organized architecture precisely because of the power required to establish and maintain such a society.  One cannot engage in the erection of huge edifices and monuments on individual bases, though there appears to be one or two examples extant where single individuals have managed such feats be means that remain unpublished.  That being the wild outlier, it is safe to say that temples of stone, huge statues and the sort could not have been erected without not only large numbers of bodies, but also very specialized knowledge of various crafts such as stone quarrying, cutting to dressed size, transport, and so forth.  We will, therefore, refer to such activities as being of a "super-human" nature, for the most part.  That is, they require capabilities beyond those of individual men.

Acquisition of all the resources required for the undertaking of super-human endeavors is no mere matter of wishing them into existence.  Gathering them takes work that in early times could be done only by other men, as well as draft animals; most often lots of them.

Human nature being what it is, most people undertake a given activity only if there is some payoff for doing so.  Working for a lifetime cutting stone for a temple is not an easy life.  Therefore, the payoff for choosing such a path would likely have to be pretty good for the average man.  That, or the threat to his life sufficiently grave.  Slavery of one form or another has been one of the key and defining characteristics of the SOS since time immemorial, or so it seems.  Empires undertook vastly superhuman endeavors, whether building temples and monuments, or conquering other people.  Only super-organization  can provide the power necessary to the exercise of such volumes of power, and when the average man was predictably reticent to become involved, the strong man became the tyrant and enslaved him by one means or another.

There appears some question as to whether the earliest walled cities such as Sumer were built with forced labor.  It is certainly arguable that it had not been, for in those days it seems that all a man needed do was walk away in the night, for there were perhaps no cages yet into which to place reluctant men, and by definition there were no walls.  But even if the earliest cities were built on a purely voluntary basis, it seems that some men rapidly expanded their wills to include the use of force to build the monuments in honor of themselves, if nothing else.

The seemingly necessary enslavement of the populations of Super-Organized Societies has, in fact, become its obscured hallmark, which remains to this very day.  We have, as yet, failed as a species to contrive a super-organized societal architecture that does not base itself upon a hierarchical master-slave paradigm.  To this very day there are those who claim authority over the rest, all disagreement be damned.  And where the disagreement crosses a line scribed in the societal sand, most often arbitrarily and with capricious vicissitude, "authority" responds with violence in some form and degree.  It is a pattern as predictable as the phases of the moon.

This, then, raises the question of whether there exists the potential for establishing a culture where the freedoms of men are fully respected while delivering all the promise of super-organization.  To that, I suspect the answer is "yes".  But in order to realize such a social order, one must have in hand the basic knowledge required, as well as the will and integrity not only to make it so, but to maintain it in the face of the unavoidable less-pleasant aspects of freedom, which most people appear overly eager to escape.  Few men are even aware of such considerations, much less possess the knowledge, but that is a discussion for another day.

Another requirement for such societies is abundant energy for all that is so low in cost that it is effectively "free".  Coupled with this is the need for sufficient advancement of human technology such that most, if not all, of the various labor-intensive endeavors to which men apply themselves would be carried forth to realization by machinery, rather than flesh and sinew.

We could, of course, return to a hunter-gatherer paradigm wherein each man did his thing, the division of labor was very broad such that most men were jacks of many trades, and live the simple life of our distant ancestors.  The probability of that, barring a Reset Event (meteor strike, Jesus returns, genocidal warfare, aliens landing on the South Lawn, etc,), is vanishingly small such that we can call it impossible for all practical purposes.  Therefore, if we are to live as free men without the hobnailed boot of some random tyrant upon our necks, we absolutely must evolve our technologies such that our hunger for "advancement" can be satisfied without trampling upon the lives of men in the process.

But that is only a necessary condition, being by no means sufficient.  Sadly, some people seem to have been born with the gnawing need to run the lives of others, no matter how materially wealthy they might be.  Call it a defect of character, genes, or whatever you wish; it matters not.  What counts is that such people would continue to work toward the acquisition and cultivation of political power in order to call themselves "boss" such that they bark and the rest jump.  That brings us to the notion of the Warrior Culture, which I will be addressing in some detail at a later date.

Warrior Culture is one based upon the principles of the "true" warrior.  Adjectives such as "true" have proven very sticky wickets in the past, but what I have in mind here is very specific and shall be defined and described in full detail elsewhere.  Suffice to say that in a Warrior Culture, the very notion of one man attempting to subdue the rightful claims of another, whether by force, fraud, or any other criminal means, would be regarded as utterly intolerable.  Any such violations of one man by another would be met with unequivocal resistance, up to and including the taking of life in cases where the perpetrators show continuing determination to commit violations against another despite having been warned away.

While political chicanery would not likely be eliminated in a Warrior Culture, it would take on a rarity so great and a character so different from that to which we are currently subjected, that the deeper threats posed by today's political machinery would be rendered effectively extinct.  This is because the skullduggery so common today would become so immediately and existentially risky for anyone attempting even the most innocuous seeming (by today's standards) usurpation, that they would fear for their lives at the very thought of it.  The cost of violating the rights of another would become so high in comparison to the reward, that nobody in their right mind would so much as waste their time thinking about such things.  Those who did would be taught rapid, harsh, and potentially fatal lessons in social Darwinism.

Not every man would have to be a warrior, but the more such men there were, the better.  There would, however, have to be a critical mass of such men who would act as the guardians of the rights of all.  I speak not of police or anything "governmental", but strictly of those who would make certain that the principles of proper human relations remained sacrosanct and in full, unyielding force.  Any man could be a warrior.  Any child, as well.  The more warriors, the merrier, so long as the understanding of equal authority to act remains clear and unchallenged.

In such a society, for example, rather than having police who enforce the arbitrary statutes of some equally arbitrarily constituted body claiming authority over the rest, all men would in effect be able to act as police in the defense of the rights of not only themselves, but of all their fellows as well.  There would be no special privileges or arbitrarily assigned super-authorities doled out to uniformed and badged men.

But such a social order would require great dedication to the principles in question, which would in its turn place significant demands upon the individual that the current trend of self-absorption cannot support.

Super-organized societies enable men to accomplish that which would clearly be impossible through individual effort.  Super-organization was necessary to the bootstrapping of human technologies much beyond flint-knapping and stone hammers.  However, the paths taken to super-organization by nearly all "leaders" has been rife with force, violence, and the threats thereof.  Why this has been the nearly universal historical case remains open to discussion, but is irrelevant to the question of whether force is necessary in order to achieve and maintain super-organization.  It is clearly not necessary, which means that given the proper knowledge and political/cultural will,  states of super-organization can be achieved and maintained without reporting to coercion in order to marshal the resourced needed for achieving super-human objectives.

The other issue remaining revolves around the question of who should motivate, implement, and manage the establishment of human super-organisms.  Assuming such organizations are both desired and justifiable, should the "government" create and manage such social structures, or should their establishment and dissolution be left to individuals who choose to come together and, perhaps, go their own ways?  Perhaps there are roles for each in such matters, so long as men are not coerced into action or by prohibitions unworthy of a land characterizing itself as "free".

So long as super-organizations conduct themselves in accord with the principles of proper human relations, there is no need to fear them.  The issue of self-regulation has, of course, been problematic, failures having prompted government interference which have proven deleterious to the quality of men's lives, on the average, bringing us right back to the importance of Warrior Culture.

Without a population properly oriented to freedom and dedicated to living their lives in accord with the principles that best support it, tyranny shall continue as our daily reality, all good intentions to the contrary notwithstanding.  That is what is required in order to live in super-organized societies while retaining our freedom.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.

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