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« An example of eusapience: Nelson Mandela | Main | Sapient governance I. Part B »

July 20, 2008


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Wayne Hamilton

Your thesis is becoming more interesting. I agree there should be a hierarchy in some sense, but I'm still pondering this fine-but-enormous point. Please soon tell us your view of the hierarchy that existed millenia before present; and before that.

George Mobus


I assume you mean historical forms of governance such as monarchies/dictatorships and feudalism/mercantilism, etc.

The short answer is that they all represented forms of organization that were on the path of evolution (sometimes brought on by revolution - punctuated equilibrium!) toward the current republic/market/capitalism form that is sweeping the world! An undercurrent to that evolution, aside from the obvious fact that economic efficiency has been increasing, is the status to individuals in the framework has been progressively elevated. In our current market economy with varying degrees of freedom for individuals (contrast USA, UK, and China) the rights of the person are taking a commanding seat. I plan to investigate this in the next paper.

In my mind, an ideal governance completely recognizes the dignity and rights of the individual while still maintaining inter-individual regulations (I mean we do this now in things like property rights). It just needs to be a priori explicit rather than always subject to case law determination. Something along those lines.


Wayne Hamilton

Hierarchy before Mankind, is what I meant by ‘before that’. Is there something we can learn from that hierarchy that could be used to help craft a new, evolved hierarchy for global governance? Knowledge of ‘natural’ interactions within and between ecosystems? Wildlife behavior, for example? Inter-specific relationships? Inter-kingdom interfaces?

This was my reason for nattering on about ants and Hopis and circles. I grew up in places where it was just a few steps away to forests, meadows, mountains, tarns, streams with bear, elk, pica, amphipods, trout, with pine, sage, flox, lemna, typha …
I paid more attention to the macrofauna and probably learned a tiny fraction of what a wildlife behavior specialist might know. I know the time of year to avoid getting anywhere near a cow elk or moose; and five months later avoiding close approach to the bulls. I know that female mule deer talk to each other, with the leader barking instructions like “Don’t dawdle back there”! I’ve seen Wapiti calves learn to play ‘king of the mountain’ with their playmates. I’ve watched a doe mulie escape a small pack of coyotes by splashing her way chest deep into the river, as I eyed a tree in case the canids decided to change their target. Looking at trails and browsing trail networks it’s easy to see that ‘going places’ is combined with snacking, while avoiding breathtaking vertical climbs.

It’s also been easy to see that man-caused extirpation of predators leads to over-browsing and loss of aspen recruitment and riparian willow, leading to stream entrenchment and dewatering of floodplains. But that digresses from my points here which are: 1. Where is the hierarchy? and 2. Where is the governance?

If pushed, I’d suggest that the top level of the hierarchy consists of the soil microorganisms and photosynthetic plants and phytoplankton that feed what we mistakenly call the ‘higher’ forms of life. If prodded, I’d say that the biosphere is governed by process – not by any group of organisms or individual. And if shoved I’d allow that each life form persists to the extent that it LEARNS genetically how to coexist in that process with other life forms.

And that is all that I want the strategy level of your structure to teach us.

Phil Henshaw

I'm into a self-control theoretic approach that sounds somewhat like yours on the surface at least. I noticed a major similarity between natural system economies and human ones in that they are all designed by how they develop, so the developmental process is the natural steering mechanism. Have you considered that beyond that natural and human economies that become sustainable do it when they stop multiplying and stabilize? There seem to be some very clear procedural necessities for that to occur, having to do with first having a surplus and changing the way you use it. Does that sound interesting?


George Mobus


I am working on the next installment in which I think more clarity will emerge (I hope anyway). I ask your indulgence to wait for that to see if some current questions are answered.

This has turned out to be a rather larger project than I at first thought it might be.


Wayne Hamilton

Re. "...larger project...", I'd say it's been a while since anyone tried what you're doing. Michelangelo's Sistene Chapel frescos come to mind. Don't fall off the scaffolding! Let us know if we can help hold a pallette or something.

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