what if it goes in cycles

Submitted by Splinglebot in Anarchism (edited )

I was thinking about how relations of dominance and hierarchy common in primates got replaced by more egalitarian communities in early humans. Relations of dominance and hierarchy are inherently unstable as they breed resistance among those at the bottom, hence they tended to give way to more egalitarian relations - but today we live in a world in which dominance and hierarchy are the most prevalent social relations. I remember reading something that suggested that it was the unstable nature of hierarchy that led to it taking over, as egalitarian communities were more stable they had no reason to expand - when the hierarchical ones were driven by their instability to expand and conquer the egalitarian communities.

So the point of this that it suddenly occurred to me: maybe all this goes in cycles? Maybe humanity (or any particular section of humanity) will be flipping between the most prevalent arrangement being hierarchy to being egalitarianism and back every few thousand years or however long, for as long as humans exist. An anarchist conception of the future to strive for is one in which egalitarian communities replace hierarchical ones and become prevalent again, and maybe if this did happen everywhere they'd be more stable and it could last a while, but there's that possibility for something to go wrong in some community somewhere making it go hierarchical again, and start to conquer everyone else until its dominance is global in scope. Then this global system of dominance breeds resistance until eventually it falls and is replaced by egalitarianism again ... and the cycle repeats. It doesn't necessarily happen to be global either, each region might have its own cycles in which hierarchy and egalitarianism switch places as the most common relations, and only occasionally does one particular region end up in a hierarchical period that is "successful" enough to expand until its global in scope like we have today

idk this is kinda speculative but it makes a lot of sense to me

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rot wrote (edited )

Possibly, freedom has to be protected. anarchy cant exist alongside hierarchy so maintaining a free society will have to be a constant struggle.

I'm paraphrasing what I've heard before but the idea is that we cant just 'fix' everything with a revolution.

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alex wrote

this. i think for the imaginable future we will continually have to fight hierarchy, whether it's established or trying to (re)establish itself.

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Pop wrote

typical relations of dominance and hierarchy common in primates

Which primates? I know more about the more cooperative ones.

Maybe humanity (or any particular section of humanity) will be flipping between the most prevalent arrangement being hierarchy to being egalitarianism and back every few thousand years or however long, for as long as humans exist

The vast majority of human history we lived in largely acephalous societies with built in mechanisms to prevent hierarchisation, as hunter gatherers, so far as I understand. So it's more like civilisation(s) emerged sometime around the last 10 000 years and has slowly been infecting the planet.

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Splinglebot OP wrote

Which primates? I know more about the more cooperative ones.

Don't chimps and baboons have dominance hierarchies? Although thinking about it IIRC many of them have a mix of both, maybe calling them "typical relations" was a mistake

The vast majority of human history we lived in largely acephalous societies with built in mechanisms to prevent hierarchisation, as hunter gatherers, so far as I understand. So it's more like civilisation(s) emerged sometime around the last 10 000 years and has slowly been infecting the planet.

yea the "every few thousand years" was kinda arbitrary, but the point is the idea that hierarchy will tend to breed resistance and ultimately give way to egalitarianism, then given a long enough period of time hierarchy emerges again and takes over, repeating the cycle. I mean I'm basically just speculating here but I'd imagine that most of the time hierarchy would emerge and fall before it has a chance to spread too far, and only occasionally would it be "successful" enough to start spreading and conquering egalitarian communities

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Pop wrote

Don't chimps and baboons have dominance hierarchies?

I dunno, I was asking you!

hierarchy will tend to breed resistance

I think that there is always resistance to hierarchy because hierarchy is dehumanising and people like to be uncompromised beings.

Yes there's a push and pull of forces. But currently we're in a situation where hierarchy will end with catastropic collapse and mass extinction, so there is that potential endgame.

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existential1 wrote (edited )

It makes sense in a vacuum. But a lot of those changes happened pre-petroleum. Fossil fuel use is about to shit all over that theory, if it has any inherent merit. Well, fossil fuel and industrial agriculture.

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