Thursday, October 04, 2007

On social order

When humans come together in groups, we have a better chance at survival than if we live as individuals. Survival is the primary goal of any living being on earth, and this Darwinian necessity forces humans to behave as pack animals.

When animals live in packs, rules are necessary. Rules maintain social order. If social order is broken, we are forced either to live individually—lessening our chances for survival—or to create a new pack. This new pack will eventually need a set of rules. With no rules, there is no order. With no order, there is no survival.

What are the rules and how are they determined? “No killing” would seem like an obvious one, considering that survival is the ultimate goal of the pack. Yet when a pack has been formed, there is often a greater incentive to protect the social order than the individuals within it. Maybe killing is necessary for survival? After all, if the social order is broken, everyone’s survival is in jeopardy.

Because of this, various social orders have had wildly different interpretations of the “no killing” rule. In some situations, killing is a tool used by the dominant members of the group to maintain order through oppression of subordinate members. In other situations, killing is permitted as a "deterrent" against those who wish to disrupt the social order. For example, in the certain American states, individuals who break certain rules (such as the rule not to kill) are killed by the state.

Still, in every social order, there are rules about who may kill and who may not. If everyone in a pack is free to murder, anarchy will result. So the rule always becomes: “only those with permission may kill.”

Who determines permission to kill? Here, we must divide social order into two sub-categories:
1.Social order that is imposed by a dominant group on a subordinate group, usually through violence (dictatorship)
2.Social order that is based on consensus (democracy)

Dictatorship is the simpler model, but democracy is better. Democracy, ideally, considers the concerns of all members of the social order. A dictatorship, meanwhile, inevitably favours the concerns of the dominant group over others. Democracy is fairer.

Now, consider again the question of “who may kill?” In a dictatorship, the answer is simple: the dominant group may kill while the subordinate group may not. This is easily enforced. If a subordinate member breaks this rule, perhaps by trying to kill a dominant member, he will be killed as punishment. It’s probably also a good idea to kill his friends and family, to show everyone else that deviations of this sort will not be tolerated.

In a democracy, the answer isn’t so simple. There may be those in the group who believe certain members of sub-groups (ie. police officers, soliders) should be given the right to kill in certain situations; for example, when they witness a violent crime being committed. Others may argue that all citizens should be given the right to kill in certain situations; for example, if they are attacked.

How to reach consensus? Generally, most democracies rely on two mechanisms: elected-governments and courts of law. (There are possible alternative methods, such as holding referendums on every disputed issue, but these tend to be inefficient.) The rules eventually agreed upon must then be enforced. It generally follows that a military and police force are created to do just that.

Those who favour disorder and chaos over order and organization fail to understand that these latter two elements are essential to our survival as a species. To favour anarchy over order is to be anti-human. And that’s just ridiculous.


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