Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Reviewing "Game Tape" of Human Cultural Development, Before And After Designing New Plays To Try Out
Reader Magpie commented at a previous MNE post that "it is _OUR_ opinion that really matters." Well, supposedly. In a democracy anyway.
Yet that is true ONLY if we, the Middle Class, makes our consensus opinion matter. Without expression of consensus opinion, we can't generate cultural evolution. Seems obvious.
So how and why is it, you ask, in this day & age, that we are still discussing the obvious, rather than acting on it? It's a long story, and you have to know your history to get a big enough perspective on things to matter. Please imagine you were on the moon, viewing the Earth, and could repeatedly review the tape of the the last 100K years of homo sapiens cultural development.
That "game tape" would be very interesting.
For now, let's jump over most individual details, and note that one group organizational response to population growth PLUS situational challenges is to trust & delegate to discipline-specific talents. Consult endless anthropology literature for background.
Among other things, this leads to various TEMPORARY chiefs, including War Chiefs, cultural phenomena which were managed very well by tribal methods honed over +60K years.
However, once net population growth makes tribal groups bump into one another constantly, a typical response is to go to a permanent war standing, with elevation of War Chiefs to perpetual "Strong Men" rulers & factions - and eventually to some crude, gang-related hacks called aristocracy.
And one step further beyond that? Once advanced methods for organizing democracy are developed, people simply DO NOT NEED aristocracy, and the strong-man mentality retreats into military roles, to which responsibility can be delegated on an as-needed basis.
Where does this quick glimpse leave us now?
We've scaled up democracy methods quite a bit in preceding centuries. Now we're bumping into entirely new levels of organizational demand. Population size has outrun our old methods for adequately organizing democracy. We need some bigger changes in group methods, and the group stress of being forced to look for them is showing.
Hence, as expected, we're seeing the last gasp of an aristocracy phenotype and habit, trying to re-establish it's "need," by imagining constant threats, and actively denigrating past, present and emerging democratic institutions as too slow, and hence [supposedly] unworkable.
We've seen this all before, in various model systems. First the "Luddites" laugh at progress, then they try to outlaw it, then they try to kill it. Then the Luddites always lose out to evolution.
Our greatest need is not to argue with Luddites. More to the point, we need more suggestions, more experiments, and exploration of more options. That's how we progress through the 4, cyclic stages of Luddite grieving. It's the cycle of cultural life.
For cultural adaptive rate to stay the same ... every Luddite has to be stood upon, not argued with.