During the 20th century mankind was obsessed with how to control and manage capital.
Two opposing theories on capital management had emerged during the 19th century during a period of unpresidented growth known as the industrial revolution.
These two theories became known as Marxism and Capitalism
A quick overview of these two theories can be useful;
- Marxism: This was were all the means and distribution of capital was owned by the state. As the state worked for all citizens it was initially considered fair. [Unfortunately, it led to corruption and exploitation as individual civil servants had the literal power of life and death by their decisions.]
- Capitalism: This was were the means and distribution of capital was in the hands of private individuals and companies. This was initially considered fair as a hardworking and sucessfull individual or company would benefit wholy from their labours. [Unfortuneatly this led to single individuals becoming rich and powerful and then exploiting their position to remain that way, to the detriment of society and the workforce]
We still don’t have much of an answer as to which system is best. Both have their failings. And both represent differing ideals of the human psyche.
Being rewarded for what you have personally achieved.
And contributing to society.
But what will be the large obsession for the 21st century?
I see it as one based on how best to control and manage society.
The emergance of conflict
There seems to be an emergance of a direct conflict between two camps of thought on how society should be organised.
The anti-globalist protests, anti-McDonalds protests, anti-war protests and anti-government protests are on one side and government and transnational organisations are on the other.
[Note: A trans-national organisation is very different from a multi-national organisation. A multi-national is effectively a set of independant, self-contained, oragnisations managed globally. A trans-national organisation on the other hand, is a single orgnisation spread and managed globally. It effectively can not be seperated into independant national parts without serious organisational damage]
The major problem is that both sides of this new conflict are unaware of what they are fighting for or what they really want. The 20th century fight over the control and management of capital was a lot easier to understand than the 21st fight over the control and management of society itself.
But both sides are passionate that they have the correct view of the world.
That they are fighting for the betterment of mankind.
What it is really all about: Gorillas and Bonobos
To understand the fight it is easier to look at simpler primates. Our closest cousins are the great apes.
They, like us, have found interesting solutions to the problem of organising and structuring society.
And they have come to very different solutions.
Gorillas are similar to the traditional governments and trans-national organisations.
They have a distinct and understandable hierarchy.
The dominant male effectively decides all important things for the collective.
He is the leader and sole decision maker in regards to territorial disputes, foraging, conflict mediation and food/resource distribution.
If another male becomes more dominant he takes over, and the former is cast into the wilderness, but the hiearchy remains intact and effectively the same.
Bonobos are very different. At first primatologists assumed they had no observable societal structure at all. It seemed initially chaotic and random.
But on further investigation they found some startling consistencies.
Bonobos have a collectivist, merit-based, organisational structure that has a continually changing heirarchy.
The one that is best at territorial disputes leads in that instance. The one that is best at foraging leads them during that task. The one that is best at conflict mediation resolves conflicts. And the one that is considered by the group to be the fairest at food/resource distribution does that task.
If someone who is better at a specific task then they replace the previous task leader. The previous task leader remains in the society and does not seem to mind. [After all they also benefit from better leadership]
But what is more interesting is that the task leaders do not form their own heirarchy.
No one task is considered more important than the others.
Their society is respect/merit based.
This is more akin to the human idea of anarchism.
What it is really about: Order vs. Anarchy
These are the two opposing ideas for societal structure that will fight it out in the 21st century.
- Order: A strictly defined hierarchial structure. Everyone will know their place in the hierarchy and their will be centers of authority based upon the structure. Having such order will ensure that resources are distributed fairly (assumption).
- Anarchy: A non-heirarchially structured society with leadership based purely on merit and ability. Having such a system ensures personal liberty (assumption)
Of course, as we have seen with the great obsession of the 20th century the assumptions and answers are not always correct or aparent.
The reason for this is ALL these systems only work small scale. They do not work globally.
Democracy is a good example of this. The greek atomist materialists that thought up democracy 3000 years ago would be horrified by our modern application of their ideal.
It is more akin to an elected oligarchy than their ideas of democracy.
Democracy meant a society collectively making all the important decisions.
The less important decisions were left to individuals.
Our modern idea is more akin to the roman ideal of a dictator. The romans elected a dictator that ruled them for a set time, usually at times of crisis, that was above the power of the senate.
When they lapsed in their ideals and elected dictators for life, their empire crumbled and collapsed.
Capitalism is also a good example of the lack of scalability of human ideas.
Capitalism was never meant to be anything more than a replacement of the barter system in a city with a stable common comodity (currency).
At a local level capitalism is fair, but at a global level it keeps the poor poor and makes the rich richer.
Anarchy will be the eventual winner. Or at least I hope so.
People see the world creating a frightening globalist control mechanism and think that it is all over for anarchy.
And then you read magazines like Make or 2600 that encourage you to creatively go angainst the system.
Or look at the great anarchistic influence on the Open Source Community, the Creative Commons or the anarchistic meritocracy basis of most forums/bulletin boards.
Then you realise that Anarchism is alive and well.
And is fighting back.
So, awaken your Bonobo mind.