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Human Nature and Anarchist Society

Tue, Nov 22 2011 04:16pm PST 1
Christopher Navarre
Christopher Navarre
6 Posts
One problem I've been thinking about with Anarcho-capitalism is that as far as I can tell it would really only be possible if other people stop coming into conflict with other people's property and person. It seems to me that pretty much all if not all mammals have some hierarchy with alpha males leading the packs and it doesn't really seem any different with humans to me. Sure humans have many mental abilities that all other known animals don't have but it seems like it might be impossible for humans to move past the tribal mentality of us against them and self sacrifice for the group. The only way anarcho-capitalism could be maintained as a reality is if a large percentage of the population or the majority called out the conflict that authoritarians try to create. They would have to be willing to not use force against others and I'm not convinced that people can move past rewards, punishments, and thinking in groups.

Are there any solid studies on this part of human nature? Am I going wrong in my thinking somewhere? Can humans mold themselves past these instincts?
Sat, Dec 17 2011 10:23am PST 2
Weed Wackr
Weed Wackr
52 Posts
Hi Chris,
Your question invites volumes of discussion. I would like to share some thoughts.

Is domination and interpersonal attack instinctive and unavoidable?

I believe it is unavoidable that there be some disharmony among organisms of species, but from what I have learned I don't see the systemic disharmony present currently in human society as any sort of instinctive "normal" state. Populations of like-organisms tend to develop harmonic systems within their environment where they may compete for resources but don't generally actively attack and injure each other on a daily basis. The energetic waste in that behavior is too costly. Imagine a tribal man stepping up and declaring his chiefhood. If everybody does not give him a certain amount of their daily take of fish and berries he will kill them. He now has a ton to worry about. It's hard to believe that would be preferable in any long-term sense compared to simply continuing to cooperate with each other and be mutually respectful. Perhaps specializations and varying levels of respect and experience would form a sort of "hierarchy"? But I'm not sure I see it extending into a relationship of persons who obey or face violence continually from certain other persons. That would be extremely costly to maintain.

I see relative harmony as an optimal "normal" state and systemic destructive predation as a temporary anomoly.

One example I like to consider is Slavery, direct human ownership. It was once thought to be a productive and normal age-old part of human society. In fact, it was though to be critical to maintaining order and productivity. That has been discarded.

It was great to go so far. Why stop there? I don't see any reason why we cannot keep going and continue to refine an optimize the ways we meet our needs.

Tue, Dec 20 2011 10:09pm PST 3
Christopher Navarre
Christopher Navarre
6 Posts
I would say that as resources become more and more abundent there is less need and desire for people to use force against each other. I think the fact that the poorer countries of the world are often full of corruption and violent conflict in comparison to the wealthier countries. I think in the chieftain forcing his rule and demands on the tribe he has more to gain than he has to loose in his own mind. I suppose if you look at other animal species like wolves, ants, lions, cows, birds, etc they are cooperative or atleast don't actively try to threaten each others livelyhood to save themselves (except maybe in life or death situations ~ I think a squirrel would steal another squirrels food if he was going to starve to death otherwise... Not a biological expert though).

I would say people are still generally in slavery because most people live under the state just as classic american slaves lived under the plantation owners.

Overall in the last few weeks I think I've came to the conclusion that eventually society will approach voluntarism as long as the human race doesn't suffer setbacks faster than progress (Death Stars blowing up the planet, alien invasion, nuclear fallout, 2nd black plague, The Matrix/Total government or religious control and the end of knowledge being accessible).

Do people follow "the ends justify the means" typically? If so why?

If the world was to reach a rights respecting point then what about human-animal relationships? We'd still have to kill them for food, so whats the difference between killing humans for resources and killing animals for resources? Is it tribal mentality and living in groups (humans vs nature) and is a truely harmonious voluntary society impossible because nature is to gain at the expensive other others if it appears to be worth the risk to the individual (Maybe the human mind can move past this to an extent. I think if I was literally about 5 minutes from dying without food and there was some guys apple in front of me that I didn't have permission to take I would take it in reality. Ethically I don't approve of that, but I feel like deep down there's still the drive for the body to save itself by all means possible. I understand that's a very extreme example too.) This all also applies to plants too so it seems to me that violence against things outside of your body is nessesary for survival. Of course beating up humans isn't nessesary today, but it has benefits for the offender at the expensive of the victim. Is violent selfishness inevitable in humans? People tend to be pretty aggressive when it comes to others competing for your spouse/bf/gf.

If people want to live prosperously with each other instead of actively against each other then why was government allowed to form in the first place. Why does it still exist? Is there part of everyone that still wants to hurt others because we don't naturally respect other humans even? Maybe people's fear of their enviornment including other people leads to that. Why was the american experiment created instead of consistent progress towards totalitarianism. Will having mental principles in mind (like the podcast always says "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff") be enough for people to change to a voluntary society?
Sun, Jan 1 2012 03:37pm PST 4
Wes Bertrand
Wes Bertrand
97 Posts
Interesting commentary, gents. It's definitely true that a logical philosophical framework and psychological paradigm shift will enable transition to a peaceful, stateless society. As you note, Christopher, the human world contains many aspects of collectivism and coercion, which leads inexorably to conflict and much more scarce resources. Free markets lead to prosperity and the thriving of individuals. I'd say that the humans on this site and many others in the liberty movement have "molded themselves past these [authoritarian] instincts." Of course, humans don't have instincts in the biological sense, because our conceptual faculty has enabled understanding and greatly expanded knowledge aquisition.

Ideas, or concepts or memes, are what determine the human world. In many ways, as my podcast series on Unconditional Parenting explained, the way children are treated by adults (particularly their amount of empathy) determines how adults treat themselves and fellow adults. So, once new memes are adopted, dramatic changes happen. We see this throughout cultures, based on the beliefs humans have formulated or acquired. Even outside the context of reasoning beings, though, the most hostile of primate societies--baboons--can dramatically change the way they typically interact. When the ones upholding and enforcing their domination structures got sick and died, some really interesting changes happened, enabling new, more peaceful ways of interacting:
http://www.radiolab.org/2009/oct/19/new-baboon/ (to skip the fund-raising ad, ffw to 2:40)
(this excerpt is within a lengthier piece: http://www.radiolab.org/2009/oct/19/ )

Given that those who promote the violent memes of statism and obedience to so-called "authority" won't be leaving our midst anytime soon, we need to employ ways to interact with them that will diminish their power-over-others habits and enable all of us to eventually get our needs for choice, autonomy, fairness, and respect met. It's pretty telling, and unsurprisingly tragic, that no one in the political powers-that-be responded to baboon researcher Robert Sapolsky's amazing story above when he reached out to them. If you haven't listened to the complete liberty podcast series on nonviolent communication, it starts with episode 126. Marshall Rosenberg has provided a framework by which a psychological paradigm shift from authoritarianism (and obedience) to freedom and flourishing can (and will) happen...of course barring any attacks by Death Stars and their ilk in the near future.

You might also find some answers to your questions by perusing parts of my first book, The Psychology Of Liberty. Here's the table of contents: http://www.logicallearning.net/libertytocprefac.html While it was written prior to my familiarity with nonviolent communication, various insights and principles do stand the tests of time and logic.
Tue, Jan 1 2013 09:04pm PST 5
Dave Burns
Dave Burns
16 Posts
It sounds like the OP is tuning in to the old anarchist/minarchists debate. My attitude is, I am not in a position to directly choose what society will be. Most important is not the utopia we hope to find at the end of the journey, but how to take small definite steps in a direction we hope will improve the situation. So I don't worry too much about human nature, I'm just looking for ways to push my own life and those around me towards more peaceful win-win arrangements wherever possible.

20 years ago, I learned about the web but I never would have imagined the success of Wikipedia. Now I know about the web, NVC, and a few other trends I find hopeful, and I hope that something could result in bringing us much closer to complete liberty.

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