February 7, 2014

Summaries


Chapter 1

Introduction

We began this chapter with an observation from Fredrick Hayek that there are "two sorts of world(s)" in which we must learn to live, that these worlds are confused by describing both with the word "society," and that this confusion causes problems for both "worlds." The first society we called "face-to-face" or "tribal" society, the second, "extended-order" or "economic" society. As the name suggests, face-to-face society involves those we know face-to-face -- those we know best, our "bands, troops and families" -- with whom we can exchange information face-to-face on a daily basis. "Economic society" on the other hand, involves interactions with folks in the "extended order" whom we don't know face-to-face -- or at all. Almost the only interaction we have with those people is that we indirectly [1] trade with them.

While trade plays an important role in both "societies," that role is explicitly central in economic society, but it is less than explicit in face-to-face society -- where "trade" is traditionally misperceived as "reciprocal altruism" by anthropologists, ethnologists, economists and other scholars. We suggested that "tribal society," including its trade, was guided by face-to-face information not regularly available to "economic society" -- which must use "something else" to guide it instead.

We further suggested that face-to-face society, at least as practiced by our genetic ancestors, baffles not only us -- including our "urban literate" ancestors -- but our anthropologists as well. Thus, ironically, we probably understand economic society better, and so, in pursuing our quest, we will take a closer look at face-to-face society first.

We leave this section carrying along three explicit unanswered questions: If the regular face-to-face information which controls and moderates interpersonal interactions in tribal society isn't available to economic society, what takes its place? And, "What's so 'amazing,' 'baffling,' and 'stunning' about our small-group ancestors that we find it difficult to understand them?" Also, if Hayek was the second clue, what was the first?


Chapter 2

Where We Get Our Information


Chapter 3

Hierarchy and leadership? Not in MY group you don't!

We discovered that what most baffled and "stunned Europeans" about small-group humans in the "New World" was that they "had no leaders with any real authority" and, "in contrast to the societies of their [sixteenth century] discoverers, every individual seemed to come and go just as he or she pleased" -- these groups were "without monarchs, without much hierarchy." Since under such non-hierarchical arrangements everyone is on an equal hierarchical (political) level, such groups are often called "egalitarian."

We discovered that, handicaped by the subliminal biases of modern hierarchical cultures, we -- including our trained scientific observers -- have extreme difficulty accepting, let alone understanding, groups that don't have persistent leaders. We discovered, for example, that we are infected by the "fallacy of the chief" (Indian agent James E. Officer) and that, "Before the white man came, we Indians had no chiefs" (Russell Means).

Despite our biases however, research proves that this leaderless egalitarianism was the rule not the exception and was "found on every continent," "in a bewildering array of ecological niches", that "egalitarians foraged, farmed, and herded animals" and "used many different residence and descent rules and a variety of kin terms." (Boehm 1999:30) Further, even larger groups were "able to stay egalitarian even when their functioning political units became quite large" -- The Iroquois Confederation for example.

One way for us "urban literates" to get perspective on leaderless egalitarianism is from perceptive members of small-groups attempting to explain themselves in our terms. Seeing things from their perspective, we discover that, "Of course we have headmen . . . each of us is headman over himself," and "...the Ona, have many chiefs. The men are all captains and all the women are sailors." Perhaps we can learn something about ourselves from this perspective.

But hierarchy is tolerated within the family -- "children are always controlled decisively by parents, and women and younger adults may be controlled by their elders."

We also discovered that not only were our ancestors leaderless for all intents and purposes, but they were militantly anti-hierarchical and independent to the extent that in one case they wouldn't even stand during a church service on direction of their spiritual leader.

In dealing with insistent or persistent potential hierarchical leaders, our small group ancestors used minimum necessary force, running the gamut from criticism, ridicule, ostracism, etc. and in rare instances, execution or assassination.

Clearly the notion of "leader" from the viewpoint of our egalitarian progenitors was very different than for us hierarchical moderns. Coming across as an "alpha male" or an insistent leader in small ancestral groups would result in you being considered rude, cause you to be avoided, and possibly get you killed.


Chapter 4

But What About the Pecking Order?

We discovered that our ancestors "do not live in well-developed dominance hierarchies" and "access to females and natural resources is not decided routinely on the basis of threats backed by the possibility of attack." In fact, while skills were acknowledged and differences were appreciated in small ancestral groups, no "order of dominance and paramountcy" -- no hierarchical conclusions or structures -- resulted. This is eminently practical: It's not clear -- until you know the specific circumstances -- which member of your group is more useful -- for example a weight lifter or a brain surgeon. AND that changes over time and depends on the circumstances.

On the other hand, we moderns tend to train our young to create and fit into pecking orders from an early age, particularly by giving grades and such in our government schools. In fact, we have allowed the habit of establishing "an order of dominance and paramountcy" in the modern world to become almost as normal as breathing -- and nearly as unconscious. Comparing this with ancestral tendencies, it's clear that modern hierarchy is hierarchy for its own sake. There are consequences, as we will see. But our ancestors tolerated neither persistent leaders nor pecking orders -- which begs the question, "Are there any essential reasons for modern hierarchies?"


Chapter 5

Is it Anarchy?


Chapter 6

Lessons from Leadership

We recalled from Chapter 3 that our ancestors simply wouldn't put up with persistent hierarchical leaders and this implies, in the minds of us "urban literates," a serious question: Without such persistent hierarchical leaders, how did our ancestors get anything done?

We warned that we wouldn't have a complete answer to that question till later, but that we could make progress in this chapter by looking at our urban literate ethnographers' descriptions of the behavior of those they perceived as small-group leaders. We suggested the descriptions were intriguing not only because of what they reveal about ancestral organization, but also what they reveal about modern society, both by the language employed by our urban literate observers -- and also by the fact they -- and we -- have to struggle so much to understand the kind of ancestral organization they were attempting to describe.

Taking exact quotes from the cited ethnographic descriptions, we concluded that those individuals regularly perceived as leaders by our modern observers:

- act as "facilitator(s) as opposed to governor(s) or ruler(s)" (Service 1975:50-53)
- are "noticeably reserved and modest" (Welker 1999)
- are "obliged to lead by example" (Chagnon 1983)
- "never order or make demands of others" (Lee 1979:457)
- "cannot boss another man" (Boehm 1999:92)
- are "sharing their ideas with the group in the form of suggestions, without asserting any authority" (Service 1975:33)
- "were weak and merely assisted a consensus-seeking process when the group needed to make decisions." (Knauft 1991)

As noted, even our urban literate ethnographers had difficulties understanding such "acephalous leadership" and tended, by their descriptions, to create their version of persistent -- and thus implicitly hierarchical -- "leaders" where none exist. This bias is a recurrent problem, first encountered in Chapter 3 and reinforced by the unnaturally hierarchical nature of modern societies -- with "kings," presidents and "tsars" etc. ruling us, governing us, bossing us, asserting Authority, and so on. This bias is further exacerbated by a linguistic deficit we'll address at length in a later chapter. All this causes us to confuse persistent hierarchical leadership with the kind of "leaderless leadership" characterized here in this chapter. This confusion is clearly a mistake our small-group ancestors didn't make.

Clearly, small groups do get guidance, but those giving it never order or make demands of others, cannot boss another man, and do not "assert authority." Given these leadership limitations -- and thus lacking leaders-as-we- know-them -- how do small groups get together to do un-solitary things? The answer will come in later chapters, but there were three more clues presented:

"One man might seem leader today and another man tomorrow" (Boehm 1999:62)
"A leader cannot force a personally chosen strategy on the entire group, yet the rank and file can be quite responsive to leadership in certain contexts." (Boehm 1999:40)
While Crazy Horse was "noticeably reserved and modest," ... "in the moment of danger he at once rose above them all -- a natural leader!"

Chapter 7

What's Wrong With Hierarchy?

In this chapter, we asked whether our urban literate societies were more hierarchical than those of our small-group ancestors, and if so, "So what?" After looking at how hierarchy is done in other species, it became clear that the working end of hierarchy involves "competitive displays" and "threats backed by the possibility of attack." That is, hierarchies and pecking orders are established and maintained by tactics designed to "intimidate" "browbeat," "coerce," "extort," "alarm," "dismay," "scare," "frighten," and "terrify" -- in other words, by coercion.

Looking at our urban literate societies -- particularly their "Law Enforcement Officers" (that is, "L.E.O.s") who are used to establish "centralized political authority" -- it became obvious that indeed our modern societies are much more hierarchical than were those of our small-group egalitarian ancestors. We recalled that our ancestors didn't like such hierarchies, and, from a modern example or two (the NYC "Patriot Raid" and the U.S. Military's "Shock and Awe"), we may now see why.

We described the "alpha complex" of signals, used to establish hierarchies and pecking orders, and noted that we humans have a wider range for such signalling -- which we'll explore in greater detail later, particularly in Chapter 14, Emergency! and Chapter 15, How They Got Things Done .

Next we looked at free-riders, that is, folks who take without giving "fair value." In particular, we were interested in "bullying free-riders" which Boehm implicitly equated with persistent hierarchical leaders. We observed that of all free-riders (including those occasionally wolfing down meat, feigning injury, or being lazy), persistent alpha male hierarchist "leaders" are by far potentially more draining to a group than all the others combined. Occasionally wolfing down meat, feigning injury, or being lazy doesn't begin to cost a group as much as does a persistent alpha male who -- often along with his immediate family and cronies -- "makes his living" as a free-rider on a daily basis.

The dangers posed by such draining helps explain why our ancestors went out of their way to keep group mates from becoming bossy or otherwise aggrandizing prerogatives and possibly becoming persistent leaders. As an example, we mentioned the !Kung practice of swapping arrows to keep the best hunters from parlaying their luck and skill into something more.

Finally we noted that since The Great Transitions about 10,000 years ago, not enough time has passed for our predispositions to have changed much from those of our ancestors and thus we "urban literates" probably aren't that fond of hierarchies and pecking-orders either.

The questions are, "How did these Great Transitions from egalitarianism to hierarchy happen -- despite our ancestors' militant egalitarian tendencies -- and our continued dislike of hierarchy even today?" And, "Are the hierarchical cultural artifacts which resulted from these transitions -- and which pervade our modern societies -- necessary? Are they even useful?"


Chapter 8

A Genetic Puzzle

Cladistic studies imply that our ancestral species was hierarchical, but the ethnological research shows just the opposite -- that our small-group ancestors were expressly "egalitarian." And we know our modern societies are essentially hierarchical. Thus it would seem we have proceeded from hierarchical roots to egalitarian hunter-gatherers back to hirearchical "moderns." This suggests Knauft's "evolutionary riddle:" "how could a species apparently lose its innate tendencies to hierarchy for possibly millions of years, then suddenly regain them so forcefully?" (Boehm 1999:65) What happened to hierarchical genes during the egalitarian phase? How could a genetic trait temporarily disappear?


Chapter 9

The Hierarchists Among Us

In line with Knauft's "genetic puzzle" we asked, "How could a genetic trait temporarily disappear?" The answer: "It couldn't and didn't." There hasn't been time for hierarchical behavior to evolve since The Great Transitions so the hierarchical characteristics we observe in modern societies must have existed previously. Our genetic precursor species was hierarchical and thus cladistic studies strongly suggest we should be too. Our modern experience verifies that we are. That Boehm spent a lot of ink explaining how our ancestors dealt with dominating "bullies" also substantiates this conclusion.

After looking at the evidence, we concluded that hierarchical tendencies have been with us right from the beginning, particularly in male-female relations, old-young interactions, and thus in families and so in our genome in general. Some people want to dominate, others to submit. This solves Knauft's puzzle: Hierarchical tendencies didn't disappear during our small-group period at all; they've always been there. As Daniel Webster suggested above, "There are men in all ages who mean to govern ...they mean to be masters."

While this solves Knauft's puzzle, it suggests a new one: "If our ancestors had hierarchical genes, why weren't their groups hierarchical?" We already know the approximate answer from Chapter 3. The reason pre-Great Transitions hierarchy wasn't evident was that such behavior was consistently and effectively suppressed by our ancestors. To explain this, Boehm suggests that, "egalitarians are involved in a perpetual meta-compromise: in effect, they are giving up on personal domination possibilities... so as to avoid having to submit to other individuals," and "To repeat Schneider's words, 'All men seek to rule but if they cannot rule they prefer to be equal,'" -- which added the question, "Why do we 'prefer to be equal?'" to our list.

There was a disagreement with Boehm: If many of us feel as Camus -- "Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow; Don't walk behind me, I may not lead -- not all of us desire "personal domination," or to be alpha dominators and so we're not compromising at all. Do you want to rule the world? Apparently some of us do - - - and some of us don't.

Based on a study of 15,000 6th thru 10th grade students, we suggested that a probable maximum of approximately 13% of us may be inclined to be hierarchical. The rest of us, 87% it seems, aren't very interested in dominating or "ruling." But there is that 13%. So the answer to Knauft's puzzle is that there have always been hierarchical tendencies in humans so the lack of leaders with any significant power before The Great Transitions can't be explained by lack of hierarchical genes in the gene pool or lack of hierarchical urges. Judge Napolitano calls these urges "libido dominandi" -- "the lust to dominate." Why did our small-group ancestors, unlike members of other hierarchical species, universally suppress this "lust to dominate?" Why, unlike us, did they suppress their alpha-leaders?


Chapter 10

How Reflexes, Instincts and Drives Work

Why does a cat rub it's cheek on your leg with such enjoyment? The process of evolution produced inherited "ROM" programs that operate automatically to ensure that survivally advantageous behaviors occur at appropriate times. For convenience and by convention, these action-producing "programs" can be divided into three catagories. From simplist and most defined to most complex and open ended, they are "reflexes," "instincts," and "drives."

In the case of the kitty's rubbing, she is instinctively -- or perhaps reflexively -- "marking her territory" -- automatically letting other animals know she's there. But to her, she's simply doing it because "it feels right." Similarly, the process of evolution didn't "trust" even "homo-sapiens" "knowing man" -- us and our cerebral cortex -- to always do essential survival things without reminders. But while we do have some reflexes (the knee-kick reflex for example) -- and some instincts -- because our main survival advantage is behavioral flexibility, we have more open-ended drives in the mix, naging us to do what's important. You're hungry, a drive. But how do you find food? That's your problem.

All these programs are coordinated with other processes by stimuli -- usually in the form of "cue information" -- which, for convenience, we can divide into three types: Initiating cue information, guiding cue information, and terminating cue information.

There are learned analogs to these inherited programs that we might call, for convenience, "learned reflexes," etc.

Many of our behaviors, unbeknownst to us then, are motivated and carried out similarly to the kitty marking her territory. We don't consciously think of ourselves as responding to genetically influenced (or learned) "drives" or "tendencies" but merely as doing things that "feel right" or avoiding things that "feel wrong." In fact, what we call "emotions" (hate, envy, love, jealousy, etc.) are almost certainly the conscious manifestations of drives.

In the case of any identified emotion, then, it's appropriate to ask, "What's its survival value?" If you're brave, you might even apply that question to your own emotions. And, looking at similar behaviors across cultures, the question would be "What genetic emotional framework might explain these similar bahaviors?"


Chapter 11

An Instinct(s) for Freedom

--January 28, 2008, 11:53:52 , December 27, 2010, 12:34:40

We quibbled with Boehm because he didn't explicitly suggest a genetic component to supression of hierarchy and supression of persistent hierarchical leaders -- what Boehm calls "reverse dominance hierarchies" -- and we proceeded to postulate just such a genetic connection ourselves. In support of this postulate, we drew from Boehm himself, including his observations that hunter-gatherers and tribesmen "are guided by a love of personal freedom" (Boehm 1999:65), that "nomadic foragers are universally--and all but obsessively--concerned with being free from the authority of others," and "That is the basic thrust of their political ethos" (Boehm 1999:68).

We also recalled from Chapter 3 that the Eskimos cherished "independence of thought and action as a natural prerogative," (Boehm 1999:53) and from Chapter 7 that within our ancestral groups, anytime the behavior of a main political actor "threatens the autonomy of others" it "therby becomes deviant." (Boehm 1999:67) Further from Chapter 4 we know that we can probably chalk-up our ancestor's predisposition to resist the temptation to "establish an order of dominance and paramountcy" (Fried 1967:33 in Boehm 1999:34) as another of our inherited tendencies toward freedom.

But the strongest evidence for genetically based suppression of both hierarchy and persistent leaders is that egalitarians exhibiting this sort of behavior and ethos "had been found on every continent", "in a bewildering array of ecological niches," among ancestors who "foraged, farmed, and herded animals," and "used many different residence and descent rules and a variety of kin terms" (Boehm 1999:30).

The alternative to a genetic explanation -- that all these groups somehow spontaneously, independently, and universally learned similar leader supression all around the world -- would have to be one heck of a world-record coincidence.

In line with a genetic basis for all these things, we noted via Chomsky, that 1. seminal anarchist Mikhail Bakunin postulated an "instinct for freedom", 2. the assumption of such an instinct inspired Rousseau's lament that "people are born free but are everywhere in chains", 3. such an instinct was necessary if Hume's paradox of government was to be, well, a paradox, and that 4., according to Chomsky at least, the existence of such an "instinct for freedom" hadn't yet been validated.

We suggested that Boehm's work above is sufficient to validate the notion of an instinct for freedom, but, given the number and variety discovered, perhaps "instinct(s)" or perhaps "drives" (plural) for freedom might prove to be more accurate labels, and like other instincts and drives, may manifest themselves unconsciously -- like the cat marking her territory.

We mentioned that there is supporting evidence from many sources, and particularly recalled Camu ("just walk beside me")-- and Tolkien ("the most improper job of any man ... is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit to it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.") We cited the literature on the !Kung of the Kalahari and Busama of New Guinea that leadership positions are not much sought after and that "egalitarians are innately suspicious of power- hungry individuals" (Boehm 1999:109). We recalled that Attila was apparently a simple and humble man at home. Like those Arapaho warriors were expected to be. And using the political fate of late 1900s U.S. Presidents as examples, noted that even today's "democracies" demonstrate evidence that we are still "innately suspicious of power-hungry individuals."

We asked why two such opposing genetic traits -- hierarchy vs. egalitarianism -- would evolve in the same species and suggested they may sometimes compete even within the same individual -- and that we may even feel the cat-rubbing-like stirrings of both within ourselves once we become consciously aware of them.

But what survival advantage did our ancestors derive from all this --- forsaking the advantages that accrue to hierarchical "alpha males" in favor of "something else?" What could that something else be? In other words, what was the survival value to our ancestors of our instincts for freedom? What could possibly be more important than "physical strength, dominance, and warfare?" And, in contrast, why was alpha-dominance apparently detrimental to survival when compared to these "other things"?


Chapter 12

Where Altruism Came From

In addition to the normal aversion which same-species organisms have to killing their own kind, we humans have additional protections, and for good reason. The path to uncovering that reason began with noting that altruistic behavior -- heroism, etc. -- is, according to evolutionary biology and common sense, difficult to explain.

To be passed on to the next generation, altruistic genes would have to help, or at least not hinder, individuals carrying those genes. Cinema staples, like saving the schmuck who just tried to kill you -- and has eyes for your girl -- is the poster-child suggesting the theoretical problems with altruism. Despite the problems, however, things like Carnegie Heros prove that altruism exists.

To explain this, we began by noticing that we humans, to an unusual degree, are extremely adaptable, can live in all sorts of diverse environments, and thus number arctic Eskimos, Kalihari Bushmen, and jungle dwelling Yanomamo, etc. among our brethern. Why?

The answer involved "memes," a concept developed in 1976 to describe the transmission of information among people in a way somewhat analogous to how genes are transferred. Unlike genes, however, memes can be passed at almost any time of the day or night, sometimes to huge numbers of people -- and this enables massive cross-fertilization of ideas. Which explains the flexibility of human behavior.

But there are downsides to this flexibility. 1. Unlike animals born with most of the behaviors necessary for survival coded directly into their genes, we have to learn a large percentage of ours. 2. As a result, children take a long time to acquire the necessary behaviors to survive, which puts a strain on parents and so indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. 3. Because behaviors can be developed so quickly, we may get all sorts of interesting, useful, but untested and thus sometimes dangerous and counterproductive behaviors established in a population.

It was disadvantage 4. which returned us to explaining altruistic behavior. Because of unique life experiences, we each carry a different complement of memes -- which means essential information, knowledge and behaviors -- are distributed throughout the entire group. This means the loss of any individual group-member might mean the loss of key information, knowledge or skills and that loss could be fatal to the group as a whole. Thus "altruism's" evolutionary value is that it keeps group members, and thus their unique memes, alive and available to the group.

Safer by far than acquiring our behavior from experience -- which can easily be fatal -- we more often learn it, pre-tested, from others. Without learning, we would each have to reinvent the wheel, and certainly no one would live long enough to learn how to build a whole car. Learning requires live "others" -- which is another reason "meme insurance" in the form of "altruistic behavior" is essential.

Experience -- and my friend who won the Carnegie Hero award -- suggest that we have relatively automatic reflexes, instincts, and/or drives that implement much of that "altruistic behavior." Keeping in mind you also carry essential memes, the logical parameters of that behavior amount to, "Save everyone, but not if it kills you." Luckily, despite that poster-child schmuck, usually no one has to die. Judgement is called-for and exists.

But the "Altruism Equation" may also include an "Ultimate Sacrifice" provision: Perhaps someone has information that's essential to getting the tribe out of the desert -- or, perhaps, on very rare occassions, you can save two or more group members -- but it might kill you. A Google, etc. search for "die for my country," soldiers jumping on live grenades, etc. and perhaps suicide bombings may be additional indications of this "Ultimate Sacrifice" specification in action. In general, this creates no problems for genetic theory as long as more people are saved than die saving them.

Altruistic ancestral groups were largely protected from take-overs by both outsiders and internal "opportunistic bullies who take advantage of situations by force" -- A.K.A. "insistent leaders" by our instincts for freedom. Today, however, this take-over scenario has become deeply institutionalized. We call it "government."

Another inborn trait Boehm dubs "actuarial intelligence" protected ancestral groups from "lazy slackers and outright cheaters." Subliminally, "actuarial intelligence" keeps track of who does what for who, helping us keep our interpersonal transactions honest, and providing the foundation for "extended order" trade, that is, for "economic society."

Given the value of "knowledge/information conservation," our "instincts for freedom" moderated by the altruism equation - - - and protected by "actuarial intelligence" "altruistic" genes spread rather than declined in the population. This explains not only "group selection," Carnegie Heros, and altruistic tendencies in general, the fact that key knowledge, information, and behavior is distributed throughout the group also, though not so obviously, explains our anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchy tendencies and also cointributes to our apparent innate dislike of persistent leaders. How? Stay tuned.


Chapter 13

Anti-Authority Explained

We're all depositories of unique knowledge and information. This means key knowledge and information is distributed amongst all members of the group. Even the lowliest person knows something you don't. Further, no one always has a lock on the truth -- not your best warrior, your herbalist, your shaman -- nor your king. As a result, hierarchies (persistent leaders always calling the shots, pecking orders supressing the lowly, etc.), if permitted, would often block the use of that unique and often essential knowledge and information. This would sometimes threaten individual and even group survival. Therefore the process of evolution equipped us with instincts for freedom -- and other anti-hierarchy anti-Authority programs -- to prevent such hierarchical blockage of information and knowledge use. This almost certainly explains why our ancestors universally had a problem with "Authority" -- and why hierarchy and "pecking orders" were among their least favorite things.


Chapter 14

Emergency!

In this chapter we explored so-called "emergencies" and defined them as "situations where one or only a few people know what's going on, immediate coordinated action is necessary and there's no time for discussion, and thus temporary '(centralized) control' by those 'in the know' may be implied." We noted that handling such emergencies is just one of several problems we humans have with unique information when it's distributed among the members of our group. The first problem -- loss of key information thru death -- powered the evolution of "altruism." The second problem -- general hierarchy blocking the use of key information -- powered the evolution of our instincts for freedom.

The problem we focused on was how to quickly transmit key information to someone during an emergency in a way it won't be ignored. Paradoxically, the solution is to use part of the alpha dominance complex of signals, central to hierarchical dominance displays, in order to get attention and compliance.

While this is "bossing another man," seemingly in direct opposition to our instincts for freedom, it is effective and appreciated -- if it's temporary. We noted that under certain such emergency conditions -- warfare or drought for example -- our small-group ancestors sometimes permitted someone to be in charge, and in such a temporary context, group members "can be quite responsive to leadership."

We noted that this looks dangerous if there are indeed would-be free-riding bullies waiting in the wings to aggrandize their prerogatives by becoming persistent full-time hierarchical "leaders." Perhaps this is the cause of the Great Transition. By taking a glance at Native Americans however, we discovered that this hazard is somewhat overrated.

Our small-group ancestors knew how to recognize the hazard and to deal with it. As a result, we noted that runaway alpha dominance won't explain the Great Transition, but that today, on the other hand, U.S. Presidents use so-called emergencies as an excuse for "executive orders" which greatly facilitate increasing totalitarian hierarchical control.


Chapter 15

How They Got Things Done

We began this chapter by observing that the real world not only varies from place to place but also constantly varies over time even in the same place. We referred to this as "the process nature of reality." We suggested that as a result of this "process nature," an infinite amount of constantly varying potential and actual "information" is available to us and that our information systems evolved largely to deal with this super-abundance of ever changing information. Thus, because of the process nature of reality, not only do situations constantly change, but so does our information and knowledge about those situations. It is this constantly changing information that sets the stage for answering the main question that inspired this chapter.

The question was, "Without leaders-as-we-know-them, how did our small-group ancestors get things done?" We began by noting that alpha complex signalling, besides being essential during "emergencies" also worked very well in any situation where people work together, conditions and each person's information change, and there are time pressures on decisions.

While alpha signalling may seem like "bossing another man," the "bossing" is only very temporary and in a good cause: Such signalling makes distributed decision-making possible and practical for small face-to-face groups and is essential to the efficient use of the unique information distributed among group members. Alpha signalling answers the question, "Who, if anyone, should we be listening to now?" by indicating the relative confidence each member feels in his current state of knowledge and information.

Because of the complexness and local variation inherent in "reality," we suffer the curses of having key information distributed amongst our group mates. The solution is distributed decision-making moderated by alpha signalling. We employ distributed decision-making as a natural result of distributed information.

If we observed a small group engaged in such distributed decision-making, one man operating the group one minute another the next, we might logically say they were "co-Operating." Experiments suggest that such decision making and co-Operation are indeed efficient ways to get un-solitary things done. Our ancestors couldn't engage in persistent hierarchical leadership -- the other group members wouldn't put up with it -- so co-Operation was just about the exclusive day to day mode for small groups. That's what our baffled ethnographers were actually observing when they thought they were observing modern-style persistent hierarchical "leadership" in small groups.

Next we noted that not only is co-Operation what our ancestors did, but that it works best -- and there's experimental evidence to prove it. Noam Chomsky and "Southend Press" explained it in a video clip -- and there were studies that showed group decision making -- such as U.S. Navy 10-man navigation teams -- performed extremely well. There was Bob Waldrop and his San Francisco political opposition which, because they co-Operated, were approximately five times more effective than normal. And Robert Axlelrod, "the dean" of computer-simulated co-Operation, who observed that "many of the benefits sought by living things ... are disproportionately available to co-Operating groups" and proved that "tit for tat" (reciprocity) is not only the simplist strategy, but also the most rewarding.

Despite the hierarchical overlay in modern societies, it was suggested that efficient small groups such as sports teams, firefighers, emergency room teams, etc. still essentially co-Operate in the sense we developed here. I suggested that, in general, hierarchy may not be any more necessary now than it was for our small group ancestors. I used non-hierarchical band leader Bataglini as an example -- and suggested firefighters might not always want the same guy as chief. When he's having a really bad day, for example.

Next we noted that even though co-Operation is generally more efficient, under "emergency" conditions when "one or only a few people know what's going on, immediate action is necessary and there's no time for discussion, and thus temporary '(centralized) control' by those 'in the know' is implied," our ancestors sometimes temporarily resorted to more centralized hierarchical control -- for war, hunting parties, etc.. It was also used for discipline in larger groups where more attenuated face-to-face bonds might be strained.

We pointed out that except for these situations, the moment-to-moment co-Operative egalitarian balance is maintained as each individual -- when appropriate -- transmits his usually unconscious assessment of his state of knowledge to other group members by the strength of his "alpha confidence" signals. This makes the best use of unavoidably distributed information.

We suggested this co-Operative egalitarian mode may be handicapped in larger post-Great Transitions societies because people practice dominance signalling, and use it to chronically and indiscriminately influence people regardless of the signaller's state of knowledge, often to profit, exercize power -- or to maintain hierarchical position and/or "centralized political control." We noted that permanent "centralized political control" is also a bad idea because it creates a permanent hierarchy, dampens enthusiastic participation, and marginalizes distributed information. It also sets the stage for extreme abuses such as the ~70 year-old banking "emergency" declared by U.S. President F.D. Roosevelt.

I suggested there was still more to our ancestors getting things done -- for example, how did they make longer-term decisions, particularly those which inescapably affect all members (migration, going to war, etc), when there was time for discussion.

We summed up by observing that egalitarian co-Operation was the sensible, dominant, base-line mode of operation for ancestral groups, but that in "emergencies" or other fast-changing situations, (and for alpha-confidence signalling) our small-group ancestors sometimes employed hierarchy or elements of it, but that today, that situation has been largely reversed and hierarchy has become the dominant mode. We asked if that was a good thing.

In ancestral groups, hierarchy existed within a context of egalitarian co-Operation, while in modern societies, co-Operation exists within a context of hierarchy. Our egalitarian societies have been hi-jacked by hierarchy.


Chapter 16

Ancestral Democracy & Pizza Politics


Chapter 17

Diversity vs. Ruin in Small Groups and Elsewhere

In this chapter, we suggested another advantage our ancestors derived from being anti-hierarchical: They didn't all do things the same way. This means diversity, and we pointed out several basic ways that "nature" builds such diversity into plants and animals, particularly by the rather radical process of sexual reproduction (thru meiosis, fertilization and an occasional viable mutation). All inherently scramble genes and thus the characteristics they encode.

We pointed out that the advantage to such diversity is that it makes us "moving targets" for parasites, encourages us to innovate, and facilitates adaptation to physical world circumstances which not only constantly vary from place to place -- but also change in the same place over time, remember. As a result, we observed from "nature's" viewpoint that change and diversity in organisms are not only good, but essential to long-term species survival. This helps explain why our ancestors not all doing things the same way was a survival advantage.

Next we demonstrated the up-side of diversity (and the down-side of the lack of it) using the model of placing roulette bets of the same total value but placed in different ways. We discovered that the fewer the number of bets we placed (and thus the greater part of our bank roll risked on each bet) -- meaning less diversity -- the greater the probability of losing everything. We called that unfortunate eventuality "gambler's ruin," and discovered, conversely, that the advantages of spreading risk over a greater number of events -- more diversity -- increase geometrically with the number of events over which the risk is spread: If you bet it all on one spin, you have a 50 - 50 chance of ruin, while if you spread it over 10 spins, you only have a one in a thousand or so chance of ruin. This is why "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is nearly always good advice.

As we noted, the unexpected is always among us, and as Ludwig von Mises put it, "... to acting man the future is hidden." Or in the words of Yogi Berra, perhaps echoing quantum physicist Neils Bohr, "Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future." This observation is the ultimate reason variety is not only the spice of life, over time it is necessary to preserve life. We used the evolution of the long neck of the giraffe as an example of the advantages of diversity.

We pointed out that we have the added advantage of the diversity inherent in our "memetic" nature, which enables us, using language and symbols, to rapidly pass innovated behavior and diverse knowledge around to our buddies and on to our kids.

Next we attempted to answer the questions raised in Chapter 11, explaining why, despite the survival advantages of hierarchies in other species (it tends to make them more agressive, etc.), we, with our instincts for freedom, are anti-hierarchical. The reasons developed before this chapter all had to do with preventing hierarchical behavior from interfering with the distributed decision making made optimum by our distributed information. In the case of moment-to-moment co-Operation, this is accomplished by keeping persistent leaders from monopolizing control while in the case of "consensus seeking," it involves harnessing distributed information, though in a more leisurely fashion, using methods such as Quaker Process.

In this chapter we added the advantages of increased diversity of behavior which resulted when one hierarchical leader wasn't regularly calling the shots and thus "every individual seemed to come and go just as he or she pleased." This situation lessens the probability of everyone doing things the same way and thus greatly reduces the probability of a behavioral "gambler's ruin." It also facilitates "ancestral research and development."

We pointed out that while there are circumstances where putting all the ancestral eggs in one nest may have been desirable -- in particular we mentioned ancestral democracy as practiced during "emergencies," putting one person in charge during hunting parties or droughts, and momentarily following a confident group mate -- the world isn't always kind enough to make this a clear-cut decision.

Next we noted that despite the downside, there were five practical uses for hierarchy in ancestral groups: To repell enemies, control and train children, for mating, to temporarily coordinate people during "emergencies," and finally and most importantly thru alpha confidence signalling, as the basis of co-operation.

Finally -- echoing earlier similar questions -- we asked, "Have The Great Transitions from our ancestral egalitarian societies to today's hierarchical ones led to necessary -- or even useful -- cultural artifacts in the modern world?" And, "If so, what are they?"


Chapter 19

Spontaneous Order

Spontaneous order is something measurable that happens, quite often unexpectedly, apparently without any central control of any kind, and it tends to baffle especially us moderns who regularly look for controllers or "pacemakers" controlling everything. Spontaneous order works -- and in fact works better than "pacemakers" because physical world circumstances not only constantly vary from place to place -- but also change in the same place over time. This constant change requires constant updating of behavior -- which means updating and changing the local information that makes variable behavior necessary and adaptive.

It is the propagation of information of all kinds that powers spontaneous order. The more "units" collecting information, acting locally on it, and passing it around the better. This also makes for variability and not putting all our eggs in one basket -- and as we know from Chapter 17, that's very advantageous to our survival. As a result of this information dimension, we suggested calling these processes "information games."

In order to get a feel for how spontaneous order works and what it is, we looked at several examples. First, we looked at the classic examples, the aggregation of slime mold organisms when food is scarce -- and ants. We found that "spontaneous order" processes saved an estimated 2,500 lives during the 9-11 attacks and discovered the OODA loop, which indicates that spontaneous order market processes are at least six times more efficient than hierarchies and central control. We also looked at the spontaneous evolution of order in stateless Somalia, and finally, via Nobelist Hayek, the spontaneous order that occurs when free markets aren't prevented from happening.

Recalling the discussion on hierarchy and communication from Chapter 15, we suggested the OODA-indicated advantage spontaneous order producing processes have over hierarchy and central control is directly embedded in the inherent inefficiencies of the "chain of command" -- and that central Authorities obviously can't know everything that's happening everywhere.

We presented a Macro-model of spontaneous order via a hypothetical Kalihari Bushman seeing a new building "magically" appear between separate visits to Vegas.

We noted that Hayek's insights into "extended order" market processes launched "Chaos Theory" and the disciplines that followed. The recurring theme is distributed decision-making as the result of distributed information. We suggested that "spontaneous" as we're using it really means, "we didn't see it coming," and that "we could as easily speak of 'unpredictable order' as of 'spontaneous order'." That's because the kind of widely distributed, subtle, and constantly changing information we're dealing with here is impossible for any single observer, hierarchist -- or even computer -- to obtain and update, let alone comprehend. We recalled with Mises, Yogi, and Neils Bohr that "Prediction is very difficult."

As a result of the above, and because they are part of the change-process nature of reality, "spontaneous order" processes -- including market processes -- are viewed as "disruptive" and "destabilizing" by some, particularly those with hierarchical tendencies, and this causes problems we'll run into beginning in Chapter wn, "Why Not Trade?" Finally we noted that despite these perceptions, there are great advantages to the "spontaneous order" type of decentralization, well illustrated by the decentralized slime mold's 99% advantage, the 9-11 studies, and the 6 to 1 edge of markets over central planning implied by OODA analysis of free-market drug sellers -- all based on the advantages of local behavior based on local conditions. This is more sensible and realistic than central control. As Proudhon correctly observed, "Liberty is the mother not the daughter of order."


Chapter 18

Information and Knowledge R Us


Chapter 20

Authority: Correcting a Major Linguistic Deficit

Apparently because of our "urban literate" biases, it seems even our trained observers mistook small-group transient co-operative knowledge-based leadership for persistent hierarchical threat-based leadership.

Such a mistake seems unlikely. Afterall, we know that in the case of co--operation, folks never order or make demands of others, cannot boss another man (except very temporarily -- DUCK! that baseball), and do not "assert authority." By contrast, from "What's Wrong With Hierarchy?," we know that persistent hierarchical threat-based leadership requires ordering and bossing others, is maintained by "competitive displays" which, ultimately, amount to "threats backed by the possibility of attack" and that human hierarchical societies regularly include tactics -- such as coercion, intimidation, etc. -- in order to establish and maintain "centralized political authority." How could we have made the mistake of confusing the two?

As the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggests, the way we see the world is shaped by the language we speak. Just as we don't percieve the nine different kinds of snow easily distinguished by Eskimos because we lack the words to describe them, so it seems our anthropologists fell victim to the same sort of lack of vocabulary. We can see this clearly in the definitions for the word "authority."

An "authority" can either be "A person or group empowered to command or control" or, "A person with a high degree of knowledge or skill in a particular field." The fact that we use the same word, "authority," to describe the two separate and jaringly different contexts and behaviors (transient co-operative knowledge-based leadership vs. persistent hierarchical threat-based leadership) likely explains our confusion.

We may alleviate this confusion -- and will from now on -- by establishing a linguistic convention: The word "authority" beginning with a small-a -- "authority" -- we will use to refer to someone who has knowledge and/or information. The word "authority" beginning with a capital-A -- "Authority" -- on the other hand, we will use to refer to someone who thinks that they have the right to order and make demands of others, boss other men and assert "Authority" as a matter of course -- and regardless of their level of knowledge.

We noted that Authorities, in their attempts to coerce and intimidate citizens into accepting "centralized political Authority," regularly engage in a form indistinguishable from competitive hierarchical displays, exactly the kind of behavior exhibited by Boehm's free-riding bullies. From a legal viewpoint, {In the eyes of the law, }such behavior, if it "would alarm any reasonable person can constitute an assault." Thus we have transient knowledge-based co-operative leadership (authority) and persistent hierarchical threat-based leadership (Authority), and most likely, genetic reactions to them similar to those of our small-group ancestors.


Chapter 21

Ancestral Socialism?

In beginning the next section of this book, Part II: The ROOTS of TRADE, we took a look at the concept of "socialism" as applied to our small ancestral groups. We did this to find out how "ancestral socialism" worked, how it relates to trade and "property," and how the notion of "ancestral socialism" may contribute to Hayek's suggested confusion between face-to-face society and extended order society.

We noted that modern experiments in implementing "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" notions of socialism-as-we-know-it invariably result in spectacular failure -- and we gave the U.S.S.R., and "Pilgrims" at Plymouth and Jamestown as examples. Hayek noted that because "the study of traditional institutions such as property 'fell under a ban'" archaeology, sociology and other disciplines demonstrate an "inability to comprehend economic phenomena."

We suggested that if "sharing" wasn't central to small groups, that would call into question the notion that "socialism" was of central importance to ancestral groups. We noted that according to the anthropological literature at least, "It is ... well established that meat in large packets is always shared (Kelly 1995)," but that other things aren't. In fact, we concluded that sharing in the anthropological sense at least, is neither uniform nor universal, must be taught, and so probably doesn't have a genetic basis. From the literature we noted that there's a difference in "band wide" "sharing" vs. how it's done within the family.

According to the literature, the Ache were "notable sharers" because "three quarters of what anyone eats was [originally] acquired [foraged, farmed, etc.] by someone outside the consumer's nuclear family," and we asked how much of what we eat was acquired likewise -- and if that made us notable sharers.

Despite the claim in the literature "that meat in large packets is always shared" we discovered in that same literature that this is largely "scientific mythology," that "Sharing meat does not always go smoothly, and rather than always sharing, mobile hunter-gatherers "manage to share their large-game meat at times when sharing is useful," and further, that "the hunter is virtually obliged to relinquish his product and hand it over to the group." While this is called "socially enforced altruism" in the literature, some Hazada regard it as "tolerated theft, rather than socially facilitated giving away of resources."

We observed that this doesn't sound much like "altruism," "sharing" or "socialism," and suggested that modern notions of socialism are likely flawed, largely as a result of the anthropological blindspot toward "property" and therefore toward economics as well. We asked if what our urban literate observers were observing wasn't sharing, if it wasn't altruism, if it wasn't socialism, then what was going on?


Chapter 22

Could It Be Trade?

In the previous chapter, Ancestral Socialism? we asked, "If what our urban literate observers were observing wasn't sharing, if it wasn't altruism, if it wasn't socialism, then what was it?" In this chapter, to facilitate an answer, we explored two key concepts: First, the "information conservation" versus free-rider conflict and second, "actuarial intelligence" and trade.

First we noted that our small-group ancestors had to perform an important balancing act: On the one hand, they had to altruistically keep each other alive during emergencies in order to maintain their knowledge base (which existed only in the minds of their fellows) while at the same time they had to protect themselves from free-riders of all kinds, who given the chance, would exploit their small-group altruistic generosity, possibly destroying the group.

In the case of "bullying free-riders," a.k.a. "persistent hierarchical leaders" (whose immediate family and cronies consume large amounts of the group's resources while producing little if anything themselves), our small-group ancestors were protected by our "instinct(s) for freedom," remember, which evolved to insure that using our "distributed information" to make "distributed decisions" via subdued "alpha complex signalling" wouldn't be disrupted by hierarchical bullies and their constant hierarchical alpha " dominance displays". Such hierarchy supression has the added advantage of keeping persistent bullying free-riders from consistently bleeding the group's resources.

But what did they do about the "free-loaders and cheaters" contingent of free-riders? Lacking economic smarts, the ethnographic literature, via Boehm, suggests our small-group ancestors handled them with "vigilant sharing rather than automatic, unambivalent, totally altruistic sharing." We postulated that so-called "vigilant sharing" was actually subliminal trade, enabled by a little automatic cat-rubbing-like credit/debit accounter, based on a human capacity which Boehm called "actuarial intelligence."

We suggested this was nothing out of the ordinary and that it even exhibits itself when fund raisers get a donation from us because they send us a trivial gift -- or we go out in groups and buy each other rounds of drinks. Cat-rubbing-like, at the end of the night the books are balanced -- or Harry knows he has to buy the first round next week. This little accounter, enabling our ancestors to protect themselves from free-riders, would be so important, it's likely to have a genetic basis.

The words "reciprocal" and "reciprocity" are the keys to recognizing these sorts of transactions, and "reciprocal altruism" is prominent in this department. We discovered "reciprocity" shows up in a wide range from chimpanzees -- who reciprocally groom each other -- to Polanyi's hunter-gatherers (where "today's giving will be recompnesed by tomorrow's taking") and even in Prisoner's Dilemma situations where success "hinges on the rapid detection of partners who fail to return favors."

We noted that if "today's giving" is "recompensed by tomorrow's taking," then there's a time lag between reciprocal acts which suggests they are debit/credit in nature -- which is characteristic of "advanced" economies. It seems reasonable to think of this "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" type of system -- tracked by our innate subliminal little accounter to see who fails to return favors -- as "The ROOTS of TRADE."

Clearly, such reciprocal transactions, even if accounted subliminally, would go a long way toward enabling "people who carry the more altruistic traits" to "protect themselves from those who are more disposed to act as free-riders," particularly those from the free-loaders and cheaters contingent. The "rapid detection of partners who fail to return favors" is the operational description of how this works in practice.

We tested this notion by applying it to alternate analyses of 1. sharing of large meat parcels, and 2. the Ache as "notable sharers." First we noted that distributing large meat packets makes economic sense since much of it would spoil unless distributed, and that such distribution would tally in your favor in the credit/debit department. We further noted that the variety of food the Ache got from others more likely proved they, like you, were notable traders rather than notable sharers.

We proposed that, in general, ethnographic accounts make much more sense if, as suggested, we interpret what is traditionally called "reciprocal altruism" as "reciprocal trade" instead.

Finally we noted that, even including this sort of "trade" along with "sharing" as explanations, the ethnographic literature still includes as yet unexplained anomalies such as "tolerated theft," and that we'll try to explain those in the next chapter.


Chapter 23

Could It Be Enterprise?


Chapter gn

Going Native


Chapter wt

Why Trade?

We recalled from Chapter 22 that in order to protect our altruistic ancestors from free-riders -- while still keeping each other alive to protect their unique information -- the process of evolution gave them and us "actuarial intelligence" to loosely track who did what for whom and how often. Out of this grew local trade, A.K.A., "reciprocal altruism," etc.

But unbeknownst to either our ancestors or the process of evolution, a much more potent reason to trade lurked in the shadows - - -

In search of that potent reason, we asked, "Who's the fool in a trade?" and asserted that in a "good" trade, no one is, and that in most cases, both parties would have to be fools NOT to trade.

Why? In a look at a trade between a shoemaker and a wheat-grower we discovered that nearly everyone learns and/or develops "tricks of the trade" -- a very important example of distributed information -- which enables them to forage or produce things other folks can't, or at least do it in less time (and often, even using fewer resources.) They may also make or produce "capital equipment" -- like the shoemaker's industrial strength sewing machine -- to increase their output per hour.

We saw that the net result of trading is thus that in most cases, because everyone benefits from each others' tricks-of-the-trade efficiencies, that everyone gains. If they trade. In the case of the shoes-for-wheat trade, for example, each trader saved their own time by trading rather than doing it themselves.

We suggested the "Ultimate Unit of Account" -- if you want to understand where you as an individual stand in any trade -- is the human hour. We took a look at the time savings available from shopping at a shopping center vs. shopping at separate stores as an example, and the time-cost disadvantage of making gasoline yourself vs. trading for it. We suggested a look at Appendix AT, "Time-based Accounting," might give a better understanding of the concept.

Economists logically call the concentration of tricks-of-the-trade-knowledge -- and its use in production -- "specialization." This "specialization" usually leads to "division of labor" -- people each doing the different things they're best at and trading for most other things. This means that people who specialize -- and then trade for the products/services others specialize in -- all gain "comparative advantage." Rather than wasting time trying to learn how to do everything and then doing it, they each reap the benefits of sharing in the results of the "tricks of the trade" distributed among everyone they trade with. In answer to the question, "What's the survival value of trade?" we noted that the bottom line is producing, on average, at least as much food and other necessities in 24 hours as our bodies expend. Unlike most other animals, our ancestors weren't limited to in-body storage of glucose and fat and could store surpluses outside their bodies -- if they could produce them. Surpluses translate into survival during food shortages, and tricks-of-the- trade enabled our trading ancestors to more easily accumulate and maintain such surpluses.

Luckily, armed with our repertoire of trade-encouraging emotional drives -- including "altruism," "actuarial intelligence," etc. -- our ancestors didn't have to completely understand why they traded -- "it just felt right." Surpluses, in addition to being a buffer for hard times, gave their owners research and development time during which they might develop more tricks-of-the-trade, and thus set the stage for "extended order trade," "economic society," and the modern world. Additionally, surpluses were the first things our ancestors had to trade or "barter" with.


Chapter mm

Memetic Machines


Chapter cs

Clique Selfishness

"Clique selfishness" is a natural result of our small-group "altruistic" instincts which cause us to keep our face-to-face group mates alive and, if possible, happy. During the period when most human evolution occured, all our groups were face-to-face and small enough that everyone exchanged information in a two-way face-to-face "communicational dance" rather regularly. There were few strangers so everyone in the vicinity was a member of our ancestral group. The ancestral small group was the "selfish clique" and our genetic heritage was set under those circumstances.

When human populations got bigger however, everyone couldn't talk to everyone else regularly or at all, resulting in separate groups even in the same geographical area. Sometimes groups split intentionally, as did the Hutterites, but often things were more implicit, subliminal and unconscious. Once cliques begin to develop however, we tend to divide folks into two catagories: "Innies" (our "in" group) and "outies" (everyone else.) This is a natural result of small-group drives and instincts which count on face-to-face information to work.

Because we don't know most of the people in the world face-to-face, however, to us, they are a faceless and rarely considered nebulous collective outie abstraction. "The people of Afghanistan" for example. We suggested there is a subliminal equation of sorts, THE Equation, which ranges between five and 250 "outies" for one of us "innies." With such an equivalence, it's not surprising that Marilyn B. Brewer observed, "'clique selfishness' may well be more powerful than even the most rabid individual self-interest." I'd never steal or kill for myself, but my family, my tribe is hurting. If this means "we" innies have to hurt or exploit outies - - - for the good of our own group - - - well, that's just too bad.

Instinctively and altruistically "taking care of our own" innies means that nepotism is natural, and so are "good ole' boys" networks. While our basic altruistic genetic tendencies translate into "good will towards men," it's clear that in some cases at least, to take care of our own, we may injure, knowingly or unknowingly, purposely or by mistake, members of other groups. The irony is in the heavily populated modern world, altruism practiced for your own small group can translate directly as "clique selfishness" when viewed from and applied to "outie" groups -- often the difference between the "noblest of moral acts" and "the lowest of inhumane cruelties" depends on which side of the battlefield, which group, you're viewing them from.

The modern world is rampant with "selfish cliques" and that makes competition and rivalry among them likely. Of particular interest in this respect is warlike behavior and economic competition -- which are usually closely related today as we'll see in Chapter sp, Silent Partners. And we haven't had time to evolve cat-rubbing-like instincts to help us deal with this situation, which often pits selfish cliques against each other -- and against good will toward men.

But this doesn't have to mean Hobbes' chronic war of all against all "where every man is enemy to every man." In fact, quite the contrary: Not only do we have a good Samaritan streak, we know from Chapter wt, Why Trade, everyone gains time and/or money from good trades and thus co-operative trade generally makes it much easier for us to "take care of our own." As a result as the saying goes, "When goods cross borders, troops don't."

None the less tribes "are prone to raiding, feuding, and territorial warfare, and they often play 'balance of power' games .... But in theory a tribe could be entirely peaceful" (Boehm 1999:90) like perhaps, the Iroquois Confederation. But we haven't consistently resolved Hayek's dichotomy between "tribal" society and extended order "economic" society -- nor selfish-clique rivalries -- at the conscious level yet, and thus we regularly see both "the noblest of moral acts and the lowest of inhumane cruelties" on the 6 O'clock News.

We observed some quirks in modern group membership as compared with our small-group ancestors. First, unlike our small-group ancestors, we experience huge numbers of strangers daily; they way out-number our innie group-mates. This wasn't the case for our ancestral groups -- without modern media, they didn't know most other groups even existed. We are easily members of many groups, and can easily pass from one group to another because many are available. This means we can "group hop," thus attenuating the effects of shunning, ostracism, etc. which were very effective in keeping free-riding bullies (potential persistent leaders) etc. under control in small groups.

In the modern world, our survival isn't completely dependent on the well-being of the core group of our innies, and in fact, that core group is often poorly defined. Others' information and knowledge are no longer as essential as they once were -- for one thing, we have books, libraries and the internet. Our ancestors on the other hand, knew exactly who their group mates were and probably that they were essential to their own survival. They also had strong face-to-face emotional ties to bind them together.

Our ancestors couldn't have been aware of the large numbers of "outies" that inhabited their world -- because they had no reporters or printing presses and couldn't even write. Although, because of modern communications, we are in a position to be aware that a vast number of people exist in the world -- even so we can only know a miniscule number of them face-to-face, and thus the majority of them can only exist, even for us, as a huge faceless nebulous abstraction.

None-the-less, we still seem to know some of them -- George "Dubya" Bush, Tony Blair, Ossama bin Laden -- but how is this possible since we haven't met any of them face-to-face? And "Dubya" isn't an "outie," you say? Technology allows us variations on the face-to-face theme our ancestors didn't have. The telephone, TV and movies, and computer video cameras are examples. The videocam and television produce a facsimile of face-to-face contact which can allow us to affiliate with others without actual face-to-face exposure. The other technological media may also permit this, and there are consequences as we'll discover, especially in Chapter pg, Pseudo-groups.

Once clique differentiation occured, a whole new world of problems and possibilities emerged that couldn't have existed previously and didn't have evolved genetic cat-rubbing-like solutions. This means we have to work things out "for ourselves" in other conscious, memetic ways which places us solidly in "The Age of Conscious Decision." It would be really helpful if we had a tradition that encouraged trial and error testing of the various ways of handling such problems and possibilities, especially the newly imagined solutions -- called "legislation" today. We did have such a system -- it was called "Common Law."


Chapter gt

The Great Transitions


Chapter wn

Why NOT To Trade

We discovered that despite the advantages to all folks trading in competitive free-markets, free-trade, far from being popular, seems to be almost universally despised. Medieval towns struggled "against rural trading... and rural handicrafts" for "at least seven or eight hundred years." Even more surprisingly, we found that competitive free markets were especially despised by business persons such as J.D. Rockefeller, Adolph Coors, Jr., "Jaycees," the Park Tahoe, etc..

In fact, protecting the entire medieval establishment from "the vagaries of an uncontrollable long-distance trade" ("extended order trade" to us) was "the rationale of [the medieval town's] existence." The reason turns out to be that market competition, in addition to keeping prices low and encouraging quality and variety in products, also pressures businesses to change and adapt and sometimes puts them out of business -- and their employees out of work.

Further, businesses (especially as compared to "conserving institutions" such as "society, community, family"), because they are directly affected by such free-market competition -- and are thus forced to put ever changing knowledge to work -- are "destabilizers." This is an inescapable part of market-mediated and often unpredictable "spontaneous order" and related "creative destruction." This "destabilization" is often mis-attributed to the businesses themselves and has regularly caused resentment as in Michael Moore's films ^^w$"Roger and Me" and ^^w$"The Big One" and his book ^^w$"Downsize This!"

The ultimate source for market competition and "creative destruction" though, as Mises points out, is the invisible and fickle hand of the consumer who only wants the best return on the hours of hir life and so doesn't care about the "vested interests of entrepreneurs, capitalists, land-owners, and workers." Whenever you buy, that's your fickle invisible hand irritating all those people!

Thus businesses are not the cause of "creative destruction," just the victims and conduits that have no choice but to pass it on through to "society." As Greenspan points out, although we gain greatly from the trade process, the changes in our fickle consumer preferences ultimately result in the creation and destruction of about one million jobs a week in the u.S.

The "creative destruction" that results is especially threatening to those who no longer hunt and gather for their "living" and whose livelyhoods thus depend on trade. In the modern world, this can lead to large and painful social dislocations. This explains why not only capitalists but even medieval villagers (and members of modern communities like Flint, Michigan) dislike some of the effects of free markets. And importantly, as Mises says, "It is precisely the fact that the market does not respect vested interests that makes the people concerned ask for government interference."

This desire for protection from competition and change has been nearly universal, particularly since the Great Transitions, and permeates not only modern societies, but those of our medieval ancestors, etc. That's why they stole all those looms and smashed those fulling vats. It's called "mercantalism" in its milder forms, and was known and opposed by seminal free-trader Adam Smith.

This aversion to market-mediated "spontaneous" and unpredictable change may well be biologically based, and we'll look at that possibility in Chapter ts, The State Vs. Change.

"If whole villages, including tradesmen and workers of all kinds dislike free trading ... because we consumers don't respect the 'vested interests of entrepreneurs, capitalists, land-owners, and workers,' who does like free trade," we asked? We recognized that it was our consumer half that likes free trade competition because it counters those vested interests and thus keeps prices low, quality high, and variety present.

But because our seller half (since we usually get paid as a result of selling, we're on the seller side too) doesn't like competition, most of us are schizophrenic about free-trade in free-markets: It's our buyer half versus our seller half!

Finally we asked which of these interests -- buyer or seller -- is in "the common interest?"


Chapter tu

The Ultimate Selfish Clique


Chapter pg

Pseudo-groups

We began this chapter by asking which groups -- and/or cliques -- you considered yourself a member of -- "American," "Christian," "Elk," etc. Next we recalled that, "The same thing that keeps a clique together -- the regular exchange of (mostly) face-to-face information [and the desire to keep our group-mates alive, and if possible, happy -- because we can tell how they feel every time we see them face-to-face] -- also makes it 'selfish'." Very importantly however, we can't usually tell how people we don't regularly see face-to-face feel.

Next we observed that individuals in a "group" of more than a certain small number of people don't regularly exchange that face-to-face information on a daily basis -- because they simply can't regularly all hang out together. We logically labeled this Communicational Discontinuity and this inability to communicate regularly beyond a certain small number of people defines what we are calling "the group communication discontinuity limit." People inside this "discontinuity limit" become our innies, those outside it, become anywhere from "outies" to nameless unknown members of our "nebulous collective outie abstractions" catagory.

Anyone beyond this "discontinuity limit" is outside the "biological envelope" because they're not automatically included in the regular face-to-face information exchange which cues the natural cat-rubbing-like instinctive behavior which enabled our small-group hunter-gatherer ancestors to operate together co-operatively and thus efficiently. It is perceived groups so large they include such "outside the biological envelope" people that I have been calling "pseudo-groups" or "super-groups." We observed that given time constraints alone, face-to-face groups, even with modern technology, are severely limited in size, and thus that most of the agglomerations of people we think of as groups today, especially including all national groups, are clearly pseudo-groups.

We suggested that despite these and other highly significant differences between face-to-face groups and pseudo-groups, we tend to treat them both the same, and that in a sense, larger pseudo-groups "pose" as if they were smaller face-to-face groups, thus the "pseudo" -- as in bogus, counterfeit, fake -- in "pseudo-groups."

Observing that such groups lack face-to-face communication, we asked two questions: 1. "How/why did such pseudo-groups develop?" and 2. "What keeps such pseudo-groups together?"

Next, via Hayek's initial quote, we discovered the problem with pseudo-groups. It amounts to the fact that within pseudo-groups we unconsciously include both nameless, faceless macro-cosmos "outies" mixed with face-to-face micro-cosmos acquaintances and "innies." For an example, we asked if you considered folks living in Thermopolis, Wyoming, as fellow "Americans." You probably don't know anyone from Thermopolis, yet you probably include them as "Americans."

Do we treat such mixed groups as if they were innies or as if they were outies? The natural tendency is to treat them all as innies. The problem is, lacking the regular face-to-face information exchange with those pseudo-group members who are outside the biological envelope, the normal face-to-face control exerted by our actuarial intelligence -- which would normally keep all sorts of free riders under control -- can't work. The result is that pseudo-groups, especially those lacking extremely robust formal accounting systems, are usually wide-open to looting{ ^^wby those "who want or need money and think they can get away with it."}.

Treating pseudo-groups as if they were face-to-face groups not only opens them up to looting by free-riders of all kinds, it also causes or contributes to all those problems mentioned in the introduction -- mega-war, terrorism, huge income disparity, poverty, rampant alienation, genocide and many others. As of 2005 A.D., we remain largely oblivious to this problem -- or even that pseudo-groups exist as significantly different from face-to-face groups.

In the quest for an answer to the first question from the previous section, "How/why did pseudo-groups develop?", we speculated a bit on Where Pseudo-groups Came From. Since our ancestors never experienced large local populations, we lack cat-rubbing-like instinctive patterns to deal with the populous modern situation. The only instinctive guidance we have are the patterns evolved to deal with small groups, and these often become activated and try to fill the out-of-Eden, into "The Age of Conscious Decision" vacuum. In fact, we probably inherited easy affiliation tendencies as a result of the "distributed information" advantage -- our ancestors would get valuable knowledge and information from strangers, remember. As long as the "members" of such groups continue to think of themselves primarily as one of "the people" -- the way most groups translate their name -- these perceived groups may unknowingly expand well beyond the "communication discontinuity limit."

On the other hand, and harder to explain, modern research shows that we differentiate into separate groups, probably even more easily than we affiliate. This may be an unintended consequence of expanding beyond the communication discontinuity limit and thus beyond the ability of information exchange to produce automatic group cohesion, thus creating huge numbers of perceived "outies" -- a situation rarely experienced by our hunter-gather progenitors.

In the modern world, only two things seem to be necessary for group differentiation to occur: Perceived and labeled differences between folks and perceived competition among them. Such differentiated groups -- defined by a mere name or label and then solidified by perceived competition -- may form based on trivial distinctions, and this may have serious consequences. Remember for example, the Roman Catholic vs. the Greek Orthodox split over the filoque clause -- and what happened to the "Branch Davidians."

We observed that based on the enormous modern populations and the ease with which we differentiate into groups, there are huge numbers of them we may belong to, we may belong to more than one, membership is often ambiguous and that sometimes belonging to one group excludes belonging to another. To an unprecedented degree today, there are groups and pseudo-groups within pseudo groups. Because of all this -- and because our inherited genetic machinery evolved long before such situations were possible -- we find ourselves regularly Confusing Groups.

We suggested that for modern group membership, there's affiliation vs. committment as in a ham-and-eggs breakfast. While the hen's involved, the pig's committed. "Committed," on the other hand, was pretty much the only mode for our genetic ancestors. "Committed" -- to one group, we "the people" -- is still our genetically preferred mode, but doesn't come so easily in the modern world. It takes a lot of face-to-face information exchange to develop "trust" and thus committment. It's relatively simple to become a "Christian" for example, but it was not easy to become a member of Tiger Blackjack.

Because of the modern populous pseudo-group situation, all sorts of anomalies never experienced or imagined in ancestral groups are common occurrences today and we have no automatic cat-rubbing-like programs to deal with them. In some cases the automatic group programs and instincts we do have may actually complicate matters. Since we've largely unknowingly passed through The Great Transitions and entered The Age of Conscious Decision, group-wise things haven't been simple and we regularly confuse groups. We suggested some simple questions to help clarify modern group memberships, suggesting they would prove useful from now on.

Next, with group confusions in mind, we took a look at whistle-blowers, tattle-tales and treason as it reveals hidden group allegiances. By looking at contemporary (~2004 A.D.) stories in the news (U.S. torture in Abu Ghraib, whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds, etc.) we discovered that in general, once the communication discontinuity limit is exceeded, in line with THE Equation, group loyalty tends to be inversely proportional to the size of the group. As we would expect, our group loyalties are strongest toward those we know face- to-face, particularly our "selfish" innie clique.

As a result, even groups and pseudo-groups such as Sibel Edmonds FBI translation group, apparently in the same organization, none the less often behave as if in competition with each other. We asked if we expected the loyalties of controlling cliques to be somehow different, implied they weren't, and suggested this is the foundation of the world-wide crisis in so-called "fiduciary responsibility" such as surfaced in early 21st century Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, U.S. Government so-called "Social Security," etc. We suggested that the differences in how pseudo-groups and face-to-face groups operate means the "rules" we operate them by must be appropriately different.

If we violate the above -- and we regularly do -- in line with Hayek's observations, pseudo-groups nearly always get taken over and are regularly used and looted by smaller "nepotistic" groups and particularly by "selfish" cliques for their own ends. This looting comes from both the top and from the bottom -- from the controlling cliques and the groups that take the "milch cow" image -- promoted by the controllers to keep themselves in power -- seriously. It's thus usually realistic and useful to recognize Pseudo-groups as Clique Pawns and Milch Cows.

Because of the advantages the controlling cliques have -- they have the treasurer -- and the "bully pulpit" microphone and media (as we'll see shortly) etc. -- the controllers loot -- and are the conduit for looting -- at least three times as much as is looted by the bottom "subordinate" cliques and individuals. You can see this ratio in U.S. "corporate welfare" payments which are about three times the amount of "social welfare" payments. That is, corporations on the dole cost pseudo-groups a lot more than "welfare mothers" do. This mirrors Polanyi's "redistribution proper" where "the produce of the peasant's activity" was redistributed "mainly to the nonproducing part of the population, that is, to the officials, the military, and the leisure class." As a result, if you mistake yourself to be a member of particularly a national pseudo-group, you can expect to be manipulated and looted, particularly by the controlling cliques -- to your detriment and their gain.

The above observations led us to a logical question: How Stable and Coherent Are Pseudo- groups? We began by observing that Native American tribes -- which we commonly and incorrectly believed were coherent -- weren't. As James E. Officer wrote, "If we use the term 'tribe' in the sense of an ethnic group with overall political structure, it is a misnomer in the case of most Indian groups at the time of contact with the whites and is still incorrect in the case of many." But, this doesn't mean they weren't stable. [THOUGH LACKING "OVERALL POLITICAL STRUCTURE," AS PER "500 NATIONS," THEY NONE THE LESS TRADED, ETC.]

We next observed that despite "American" biases, people don't necessarily identify with the government cliques attempting to assert "centralized political Authority" over them. Arundhati Roy told us that for inhabitants of India, "the sarkar is quite separate from 'the people,'" and we noted that even accused terrorist Ossama bin Laden originally "declared Jihad against the US Military and the US Government" only, thus initially differentiating "between civilians and those wearing military uniforms,"{ and that in fact till World War II (with the deployment of WMD against civilians concentrated in cities), that was the standard outlook for everyone}.

We then noted that even today (2004 A.D.), central government cliques don't maintain very good control. We cited many examples with Afghanistan the main one but included Somalia, Yugoslavia, Sudan, the former Soviet Union, Italy (Padania), Quebec individual U.S. States, and even the City of Los Angeles over California's San Fernando Valley. The prevalence of secessionist views may seem particularly strange to "Americans," perhaps because of "the blurring of the distinction between >sarkar and public" here as pointed out by Arundhati Roy. We noted that secessionist sentiments are often tied to the money sucked out of society by government organizations and that, on net, governments give very little back.

Remembering also that "soldiers in small, face-to-face fighting units sacrifice their lives less often for their country than for their comrades," we suggested that modern nation-state pseudo-groups aren't as "united" or coherent as we might imagine and commonly believe, and in fact, this observation is applicable to smaller pseudo-groups as well, since by definition they too exceed the group communication discontinuity limit. We asked whether this was "good or bad" and "why or why not."

We observed that modern group cohesion is attenuated because of easy group-hopping in the modern world, but it is strengthened because of over-lapping membership. We suggested the impression that pseudo-group "states" are coherent and stable is an artifact of short-range historical perspective, modern biases and pro-state propaganda and suggested comparing national boundaries on "modern" maps of the world to those on older maps for the best antidote to this impression.

Next in The Life-cycle of "National" Pseudo-groups , we began with examples from "Nepotism Is Natural" and used the development of the Aztec empire as an example of the evolution of a group into a pseudo-group used by a ruling elite for its own ends. We noted that in step with this evolution, the "leaders" evolved from "speakers" and "counselors" into "emperors" and dictators ("what Tlacaellel ordered, was as soon done.") We suggested that after such a transition, hierarchical leaders, true to their genetic tendencies, often embark on expansion, attempting to take-over, absorb, or pre-empt neighboring groups and in the process, find ways of "rousing their people to armed confrontation."

We recalled the central role "redistribution proper" plays in such "Great Transitions," as those who wish power redistribute "in order to place the recipients under an obligation, to make them ...debtors, and ultimately, ...retainers" and that according to Polanyi, "All large-scale economies were operated as ... centralized despotisms" where the peasants produce was redistributed "mainly to the officials, the military, and the leisure class." We noted some modern corollaries, and that the leaders of the selfish cliques who redistribute to their innie "retainers" are viewed as heros.

We noted that this sort of behavior often causes a backlash among the "peasants" and "great mass of the anonymous, the serving collective, the eternally disenfranchised" and "Beneath them ...the class of subject alien races" (Hitler, remember). We suggested that such resistance has it's roots in our genetic heritage and how our actuarial intelligence controls free-riders -- and we recalled the problems Jamestown and Plymouth had.

We noted that modern elites have become somewhat better at disguising their looting of "the wealth of empire" particularly by hiding it beneath the mantle of "democracy," but that none the less, the flow of tax money toward the center is often a prominent factor in secessionist movements. We used Serbia, particularly Kosovo and Montenegro, as examples. We noted that such secessionist sentiments rest particularly with independent rural folks who have regularly resisted supporting sarkar (government) cliques. We mentioned "The Whiskey Rebellion" in the early u.S as an example.

We cited late Twentieth Century Chinese rural resistance to tax collectors as well as similar Russian resistance and the large numbers who have dropped out of the U.S. "personal" income tax as modern examples. We noted that government cliques are traditionally hostile to such independence and have regularly taken action against it.

There are many examples of the myriad life-cycle processes of pseudo-groups -- including their resultant declines -- thruout history. Not all of them are directly related to taxation. They are all interesting -- and usually different. Rome is the classic example.

Next we attempted to answer an earlier question regarding pseudo-groups: What Keeps Them Together?, which is just a simple restatement of Hume's Paradox. We suggested there were both natural and man-made forces involved.

The natural forces include our small-group emotional machinery, mis-applied in the populous, modern, pseudo-group world, over-lapping memberships -- and the survival advangages disproportionately available to cooperating groups through trade. But the pseudo-group structure also facilitates looting and domination by hierarchical and/or opportunistic controlling cliques.

We noted in fact, that such looting, called "tribute," was an essential "memetic machine," helping enable most centralized empires to overcome Hume's Paradox.

One important key for the modern elites is to give the "peasants" and "great mass of the anonymous, the serving collective, the eternally disenfranchised" and "Beneath them ...the class of subject alien races" something in return -- or at least seem to do so. Lacking or losing this piece of the puzzle, empires fade quickly.

In this context, it's easy to see the evolution of "tribute" into today's "taxes" which still flow mainly from the "peasants" to "the non-producing part of the population, to the officials, the military, and the leisure class." The modern quid pro quo is illusory retirement plans like U.S. "Social Security" and medical care, etc.

Next we tried to tie up a few loose ends by taking a look at Pseudo-groups and The Age of Conscious Decision . We began by reiterating that we have no genetic machinery to warn us of the dangers of pseudo-groups -- or how to deal with them. We noted two complementary problems: 1. We lack evolved instincts and drives to give us automatic guidance for dealing with the modern populous world, and 2. this creates a vacuum which gets inappropriately filled by our small-group instincts, drives and tendencies.

Noting that macro effects are the visible result of micro effects, we began with the micro, particularly that we subliminally expect everyone to be one of "the people." Also, if we aren't treated likewise, it can cause us to feel shunned, ostricized, etc. However, as Vexen Crabtree suggests, while "All people feel themselves to be 'outside' or not accepted into 'society' ... if you take any given group of people, there are only a group of individuals all wondering why you don't like them."

We noted that because, for various reasons, our modern groups are ephemeral compared with our genetic programming, we are often chronically at odds with the modern world and may often feel alienation, etc. We need conscious action if we wish to deal with this.

At the macro level, these feelings foster development of pseudo-groups. Perceived rejection, in combination with competition and leaders who encourage "us vs. them" thinking may lead to real-world "us vs. them" -- and things like the Vietnam "War," "Operation Iraqi Freedom," etc.

In short, because we lack genetic ancestral programs to deal with large groups, so far (2005 A.D.), we lack the vocabulary, concepts and habits to dependably distinguish between pseudo-groups and small, inside the biological envelope face-to-face groups.

We boiled the resulting problems down to three:

1. Most of us have an instinctive tendency to include nearly "everyone," subliminally assuming nameless faceless outies as face-to-face group members.

2. Subliminally expecting equal treatment, when we aren't included, we tend to feel a bit shunned or even ostracized -- which, especially in combination with perceived competition, can lead to groups turning inward and ultimately, "us vs. them" thinking and behavior.

3. Our little face-to-face accounters are easily confused by large groups and middlemen. This opens the door to exploitation by free-riders of all sorts, but particularly by free-riding bullies, i.e. persistent hierarchist leaders, and opportunistic nepotistic cliques.

These factors cause or contribute to all those intractable problems mentioned in the intro to this book as things that we can improve or cure. That is, because we all -- including controlling cliques -- operate according to THE Equation, the main problem today is the looting of pseudo-groups by free-riders of all kinds, and particularly, control and looting by hierarchical central cliques, often by violation of their "fiduciary responsibility." The solution is to recognize we have entered "The Age of Conscious Decision" and act accordingly.

I try to think of it this way: We are all still brothers and sisters -- it's just that we haven't all met face-to-face. And can't! Ever. The very best we can do for ourselves, our families, our tribes - - - and all those anonymous brothers and sisters - - - is extended order trade. And keep our surpluses local!


Chapter cm

Control Modes


Chapter ll

Liars as Leaders

We continued the theme from the previous chapter, Control Modes, searching for factors central controlling cliques need to maintain Hume's Paradox and maintain their position. In this chapter, we suggested that one aspect of central clique control apparently results in liars becoming leaders in today's pseudo-groups.

Via research by Carrie Keating et. al., we discovered that "the skill that makes people persuasive can also make us trust them even when they're lying," and that troublingly, "males who are best at the deception task emerge as leaders among their peers." This observation does not seem to apply to groups of women however.

In contrast to our small face-to-face ancestral groups where, for survival reasons, "crying wolf" and other lying was thoroughly discouraged, it seems that in pseudo-groups there is a premium on lying -- and on persistent leaders. We recalled the small-group standard of honesty exhibited by the Amish in contrast, and also recalled the survival advantages of the diversity that results when there is no central Authority forcing everyone to do things the same way.

If truth is essential to survival, how can today's pseudo-groups survive liars as leaders? Because there are a lot more of us -- and writing etc. is now common -- so we can accept huge casualties and still survive and maintain most of our data base. But why subject ourselves to these depredations?

Next we suggested that after The Great Transitions, and "the ascendancy of leaders and their extended families was acknowledged and made morally legitimate," for the resultant hierarchist and opportunistic central cliques, lying makes sense. It keeps them in position to control the surpluses, etc. -- and keep themselves in power by distributing them to their "retainers" in the guise of "the military, the officials, and the leisure class."

But, as Chomsky says, "Ultimately the governors, the rulers, can only rule if they control opinion." And we have Chief Nazi Propadanda Minister Goebbels reinforcing Chomsky: "It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State." An example of the use of "leaders" to overcome "the greatest enemy of the state" is spotlighted by Catherine Austin Fitts' critique of Condoleezza Rice on "the deception task:" "The most powerful people in the world ... pay you to make the US governmental apparatus look legitimate" and "That means they need liars who are better at lying than you."

Can you imagine modern leaders telling the truth about the modern situation -- such as so-called "Social Security," etc.? So we end up with liars as leaders mostly because that's what it takes to keep us paying that "tribute" -- now called "taxes" -- in a more round-about fashion, but still to "the officials, the military, and the leisure class."




Chapter sm, Stanley Milgram and the Great Transition

In this chapter we looked at the work of Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram who tested Americans beginning in 1961 to find out how many of us would, like the Nazis tried at Nuremberg, kill or hurt others on the command of an "Authority." Disturbingly, he discovered that about six in ten would, and most of the rest would at least severely hurt you on command. Milgram's results have been duplicated in many other countries. You can review how the experiment was actually done by clicking here.

This "kill on command" behavior is very strange when contrasted with our small-group ancestors who couldn't even be commanded to stand during a church service by their spiritual leaders, let alone buck our strong genetically based "altruistic" resistance to "killing our own kind" -- which resistance we share with most {other }animals.

It's easy to connect this "kill on command" behavior with a Great Transition where "the political ethos became hierarchical: the ascendancy of leaders and their extended families was acknowledged and made morally legitimate." Before a Great Transition, "Authorities" weren't accepted for any reason: Afterwards they could command us to kill.

But there are some "positives" hidden in Milgram's results: The subjects exhibited "a great many qualms about it, and exhibit a tremendous inner resistance to it" and "the traumatizing effects on the participants [the ones believing they were admininstering the shocks] was the excuse given for declaring such experiments 'unethical.' Further, Milgram himself described a shock-administering subject who was "a mature and initially poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident." But, "Within 20 minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck, who was rapidly approaching nervous collapse."

This stress reaction strongly indicates that both our resistance to "Authority" and more importantly, our "altruistic" resistance to killing our own kind is still alive and well -- but apparently overcome by, well, something. What happened after a Great Transition to convert the average human from a strong independent individual who will help a fellow human --- and criticize, ridicule, ignore, shun, ostracize, banish, etc. a persistent Authority --- into a snivling lemming who will now instead, even though experiencing "tremendous inner resistance" and "traumatizing effects," kill innocent fellows at the command of just such an "Authority?" Did that something originate with the Great Transitions? Are there additional more modern factors involved? How long has "The Milgram Effect" shaped modern societies? I bet we'll find out in subsequent chapters.


Chapter ww

What's Wrong With Hierarchy? Part II

To begin this chapter, we recalled the reasons (from Chapter 7 and elsewhere) why we and our small-group ancestors were not happy with hierarchy and it's attendant "pecking orders." In fact, practical problems, particularly how hierarchy interfered with information usage, powered the evolution of our "instincts for freedom" so we would normally avoid it. We also recalled that persistent "leaders," who, along with their cliques and cronies, make their living at the expense of their group on a daily basis were much more damaging as "free-riders" than were those who take advantage by merely being lazy, feigninig injury, selfishly wolfing down meat, etc.

We noted that while our small-group ancestors exploited hierarchy for maybe five purposes, full blown hierarchy rarely happend until after the Great Transitions. When our ancestors did employ hierarchy what they had was temporary hierarchy in a co-Operative context. On the other hand, in the modern world, the exact opposite has evolved: Temporary and/or watered-down co-Operation in a permanent hierarchical context -- and we can measure hierarchies as permanent since at least the dawn of the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches around 500 A.D.

While the basis of hierarchy lies in our genetics, so does our dislike of it -- particularly expressed through our "instincts for freedom." But perhaps modern societies, being so large, require hierarchy. It was this and other questions about the practicality -- rather than the emotional palatability -- of large, formalized, persistent hierarchies we examined in this chapter.

Next we noted that "emergency" and "hierarchy" are Siamese twins. The personal "uncertainty" caused by and inherent in "emergencies" opens the door to accepting outside direction from someone who alpha signals that he knows what's going on. As we noted in our working definition of "emergency", this makes perfect sense - - - if and when key knowledge is localized in one or a few minds. Abuses are possible of course as in those "States of Emergency" regularly invoked -- and renewed -- by United States Presidents, etc.

Next, we noted, by their essential nature, persistent, formalized hierarchies -- with their "pecking orders" -- require a peculiar pattern of communication called a "chain of command" (COC) -- where "superiors" issue orders to their "subordinates" but the subordinates typically must ask for permission to even speak to their "superiors."

Thus, unlike the situation in egalitarian groups where there are no "superiors" or "subordinates" and anyone can talk to anyone else without fear of reprisal, information transfer in hierarchies is severely restricted. This can have serious survival implications. We noted, for example, that had Tommy Thompson not bucked the hierarchy by telling President John F. Kennedy to respond to the "soft" (rather than the "hard") communique from the Russians, the result could easily have been nuclear war. None the less, we noted that, like it or not, centralized political authority counts heavily on centralized communication and thus, ultimately, on a "chain of command" ("COC)."

With this observation, we suggested there were three structural (and six other closely related) problems with large formalized hierarchies and their COCs. We spent the next part of the chapter looking at these.

First we noted that, because of the inherent nature of COCs and "information overload," Problem 1: Hierarchies Waste Information. We showed that if each person in a hierarchy passed a one minute message up the COC, by the time they got to the "superior" on the fifth level, he would be inundated with over 52 hours PER DAY of messages -- and that's with only five subordinates at each level. Thus hierarchies must reduce the flow of information up the COC by, among other things, requiring "subordinates" to ask, "Permission to speak, sir?"

Clearly a lot of information simply gets left behind and/or ignored -- that is, often wasted -- in all hierarchical organizations, including the U.S. Government -- as we saw in Getting Through To The President, Congress's reaction to emails, etc. Further, even when this incredible information flow is attenuated, for the "deciders" near the top, as U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld suggested, "It's like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose." This waste of information has consequences as in military commanders missing "the ground truth," -- and Tommy Thompson vs. the COC.

The time it takes for hierarchies to make decisions and for information to get up the COC and back down is the source of Problem 2: Hierarchies Waste Time. In relation to the U.S. Marines attempting to stop drug trafficking in Bolivia, we introduced the notion of the OODA loop or "decision cycle."

Because a hierarchy must exert "centralized political control" to remain a hierarchy, the OODA delay is inherently unavoidable -- and longer -- in hierarchies. Often the result is that hierarchy is "not even in the game." Once you know what you're looking for, you can find the OODA delay all over the place.

Next, because the COC is essential to a hierarchy but can be rather easily broken, Problem 3: Hierarchies Have Inherent Communications Vulnerabilities. How can those lower down the hierarchy know what to do if their "superiors" don't tell them? So, tellingly, one of the first goals of a normal ^^w"second generation" military attack is to disrupt the hierarchical "command and control structures" -- that is, disrupt the enemy's COC. It was to avoid this defect in hierarchies that prompted the U.S. DOD to commission it's decentralized "DARPA Net" -- which ultimately became "The Internet" -- to minimize COC disruption in case of a nuclear war. Thus one of the most centralized organizations in the world was forced to develop one of the most decentralized structures in an attempt to assure its own survival.

As those of us with hierarchical tendencies (and those of us who have been conditioned to emulate them) vie for position -- and because of hierarchy's genetic origins -- Problem 4: Hierarchies Magnify Pecking Order Disputes . These are generally called "turf wars," "jurisdictional disputes," etc., and if you insist on having persistent hierarchies, they are inevitable. One solution might be to have ranks (president, general, private, etc.) and settle succession issues ahead of time. However, especially in large, complex, rapidly changing situations involving bunches of hierarchical organizations, the pecking orders are too complex to be completely resolved ahead of time, or for that matter, ever. The main "value" of these disputes is that they aggrandize the prerogatives and the egos of the hierarchically inclined -- and institutionalize foot-dragging and sloth as everyone becomes leary of infringing assigned responsibilities. The ultimate result was painfully apparent in the video clip of Amy Goodman trying to get "Authorities" to pick up a dead body. Clearly pecking order considerations seriously degrade the performance of hierarchies.

As is appropriate for dealing with their Siamese twin "emergency," hierarchies focus nearly all a group's attention and effort in one direction, ignoring other situations, and thus, Problem 5, Hierarchies Risk Gambler's Ruin. We noted that this effect also makes today's large formal hierarchies vulnerable to mis-direction as the result of such things as inaccuracy, lack of intellectual rigor and/or the dishonesty of those at the top of the COC. As examples, we gave the U.S. Vietnam "War" -- and the Iraq so-called "insurgency" in the aftermath of George Bush's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" debacle. Further, we noted, formal modern hierarchies persist even when there aren't "emergencies" -- and this permanently institutionalizes gambler's ruin and "one size fits all" thinking and the attendant problems: What happens when U.S. "Social Security" goes bankrupt for example? There is no fall-back position.

Since hierarchies concentrate resources, anyone who can control the hierarchy also controls at least some of those concentrated resources -- and their capabilities. This creates Problem 6: Hierarchies Can Be Hijacked -- and, right from "Great Transtions" on, they regularly get hi-jacked from the top by "leaders" such as Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Suharto, etc. We mentioned current (2006 A.D.) examples in Thailand and Fiji. And, according to Seymour Hersh, in 2001 the U.S. Government was hi-jacked by George W. Bush and the "neocons." But such hi-jacking isn't limited to those at the top: Our mercantalist "silent partners" -- typically large corporations -- regularly, as proven by economist George J. Stigler, capture sub parts of government hierarchies -- such as regulatory bureaucracies -- and use them for their own lucrative ends.

Next we noted that Problem 7: Hierarchies Are Expensive and that particularly maintaining them is very expensive. We pointed out kings with their courts and the Vatican as obvious examples but also noted the total tax take used to maintain the u.S (and U.S.) government hierarchies takes at least 50% of U.S. citizens' income (2006 A.D.), and projections suggest this figure will rise to over 80% for children born after 1991 -- and that this could lead to inter-generational warfare. Think "Logan's Run." Since a very large part of this expenditure is mainly to keep the hierarchy intact so it can attempt to deal with the next emergency, given hierarchy's problems, we questioned whether or not this was a reasonable expense.

Next we pointed out that, besides institutionalizing all the problems we've already mentioned, there was a derivative problem with long-standing hierarchical cultures, namely that Problem 8: Hierarchies Tend to Become Habitual. Because hierarchies, by their nature, take decisions and initiative out of the hands of the "rank and file," they create habitually dependent individuals who become unused to making decisions and taking initiative -- and so they do not regularly initiate spontaneous co-Operative behavior. Thus chronic hierarchy creates un-self-motivated people -- and changes the ambiance and character of a society and the people in it from self-fulfilled, secure and independent to un-fulfilled, insecure, and dependent. The habitual smiles disappear.

Because hierarchies concentrate resources and decisions, Problem 9: Large Hierarchies Are Inherently Dangerous. With increasing size, bad decisions by hierarchies effect more and more people, not only within the hierarchy, but also people nearby, and in some unfortunate cases, even people half a world away. This happens because, even in the case of a simple hierarchical failure, the more people who are directly involved, the more resources are needed for other people in the "neighborhood" to help, compensate, and adjust. We used Michael Moore's "Roger and Me" as an example again.

Governments going to war is probably the best example of dangers posed by hierarchies in proportion to their size, and the U.S. Government periodically attacking people as much as half a world away, one of the most egregious. We noted via. U.S. President Gerald R. Ford's role in the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, that "if you're a global power ...you can start wars, authorize wars, take actions that result in mass deaths in a fairly casual way."

In Hierarchy vs. Speed and Efficiency we noted that, based on the above problems, the assumption that hierarchies are fast, efficient and effective is clearly false. As evidence, we cited U.S. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt's warning that in emergencies, "Any community that fails to prepare -- with the expectation that the federal government can come to the rescue -- will be tragically wrong." We noted that in comparison to small, flexible, autonomous groups, able to respond quickly to the here-now "ground truth" -- and then get on with their business -- large hierarchies are slow, klunky, and invariably out of sync. And while, when one hierarchy confronts another, the largest concentration of resources usually wins, in an "asymetric" context against decentralized structures, concentrated resources may not guarantee a hierarchy victory. We noted hierarchies always have these problems -- and that governments, regularly discovering they can't seem to quickly and efficiently take care of the things they're expected to, increasingly turn to NGOs instead.

But what works better than hierarchy? We looked at What Katrina, Hezbollah, and Switzerland Prove to find out. We discovered that even a year after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Government hierarchies had failed to help large numbers of victims, and had instead, prevented many of them from recovering on their own. Looking at the 33-day mid 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, we discoverd that approximately 3,000 decentralized Hezbollah militia fighters had defeated one of the highest rated state military hierarchies in the world. We noted that Hezbollah was also quicker with financial relief to Lebanese citizens than was the Lebanese government.

We recalled other recent defeats of massive military hierarchies -- the French in Algeria, the U.S. in Vietnam, the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the U.S. in Somalia, the imminent (2006 A.D.) defeat of the U.S. military hierarchy in Iraq, etc.

Finally we looked at Switzerland, noting that in time of war, the government disbands and the military decentralizes, which is key to why that country, squarely in Europe's "corridor of war," hasn't been involved in a foreign war since 1515. That's 491 years as compared with America's involvement in well over 135 armed interventions or invasions of foreign countries in less than half that time. We noted that a decentralized defense strategy has been recently suggested for the people of the united States as well.

To sum up, we noted that the success and viability of both decentralized "emergency management" and decentralized defense -- contrasted with governments' failures -- challenge the assumption that the state, hierarchical by nature, is necessary or desirable for either function.

Finally, we asked, "Are there other Uses for Hierarchy, especially the huge permanent types that have evolved since The Great Transitions? We noted that some problems with large hierarchies can be improved -- but not fixed -- by shortening the chain-of-command, etc. -- but, ultimately, without a COC, you simply don't have a hierarchy.

Because those with genetic hierarchical tendencies are attracted to them, modern hierarchies tend to operate with minimal egalitarian considerations and similarly to hierarchies in non-human species. Thus modern hierarchies concentrate natural resources -- and, because "titles" confer "artificial credibility," people -- in the hands of those who gain "decisive political domination." Ultimately such domination is based on "threats backed by the possiblility of attack" usually, in the case of governments, administered by L.E.O.s in the interest of "centralized political control," but by more subtle means in other types of hierarchy.

But, for reasons ranging from "The Iron Law of Oligarchy" to "THE EQUATION," hierarchies are selfish in the interests of their innies at the expense of "outies." Though handicapped by all the problems previously noted, when they discover The Big Picture -- or for certain projects -- hierarchies can sometimes accomplish some pretty impressive things -- the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, Hoover Dam, the U.S. Interstate Highway System, the Manhattan Project, etc.

But is it necessary to have such large concentrations of resources -- and are such projects justified? There were plenty of private resources donated after Katrina and the 2004 tsunami, for example, and we noted the statistics of Hong Kong's 50 years of record economic development despite only a very small number of larger hierarchies. Was it appropriate to have large numbers of people in Egypt spend their entire lives building huge tombs for their hierarchical leaders? And what about the Manhattan Project?

We noted the main value of modern hierarchies may be that they keep the hierarchists happy and minimize pecking order violence. But we also suggested that with larger hierarchys, hostilities, when they happen, can be much bigger and more disruptive than if resources weren't concentrated. We cited R. J. Rummel's 262 million (262,000,000) men women and children killed by governments in the 20th Century alone as proof.

Given all these considerations, we asked if permanent modern hierarchies are worth their price.



NOTES:

[1] Indirect trade involves a "medium of exchange," or, as we usually call it, "money." When you work{ for money }it's not really the money you want, it's the 3D TV set, rent, gasoline, Sandals vacation, or sushi, etc. you can trade it for. So rather than trading the wheat you produce directly to the gas station owner for that fillup, you trade the wheat indirectly by using the "money" you got when you traded your wheat for money at the grain elevator. You trade wheat indirectly for gasoline using money as the "medium of exchange." There are good reasons. Not everyone will accept your wheat in a trade but nearly everyone will trade for "money," for example. This means you don't have to cruise around all over town until you find a gas station owner who wants to bake bread. And, of course, "money" is a lot less difficult than wheat to carry around in your pocket or purse.

The use of "money" in indirect trade facilitates the flow of goods and services among complete strangers. The people who produce the gasoline for your fillup are unknown to you and you to them. Economic society flourishes even though goods and services nearly always flow through the unknown hands of many complete strangers before they arrive in your hands. You don't know either the assembly line worker who put the windshield in your car or the guy who dug the sand to make it. With indirect trade, that's not necessary: All that's necessary is that you like what you buy -- and you trust the "money." return



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