Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Making out like band(its)

I have a theory, derived from Jared Diamond's classification of societal types in Guns, Germs, and Steel. Modern states are large enough, and the global economy is integrated enough, that almost all competition for resources happens within one's own society, and that membership in that society provides you with no comparative advantage against those with whom one primarily competes. Thus I propose that the comparative advantage of states, which overthrew bands, tribes, and chiefdoms, operates only externally, and that, if one could form a band within a state, one would gain a further competitive advantage. Thus an extended family, operating as a mutual support system, would have an advantage over any single person or family, since the extended family's members would not all fall on hard times at the same time, and that life-stage specific resources (baby clothes, for instance) could be transferred between members. Thus one would expect that groups that have strong family backgrounds (Hispanics, for instance), would be the most competitive members of society in their re-emerging bands.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Philosopher Poet said...

I've been saying this for years, and all my friends think I'm crazy.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

the global economy is integrated enough, that almost all competition for resources happens within one's own society

Like I said, globalization means the opposite, you now have to bid against the Chinese for steel and not just your neighbors.

The basic theory of tribes winning out over bands was that tribes could produce enough surplus food to have trained warriors. Chiefdoms could do that and have scribes and blacksmiths too. So if you try to bring the theory forward 4000 years into the present day, maybe the group that's the most competitive is the one that's able to produce the most extra money, with which to buy think tanks and politicians. Earlier in American history this happened on a band level, with the Rockefeller and DuPont clans. Now it has expanded to more of a broad group where the power doesn't depend so much on the fortunes of one industry. Like a chiefdom, not everyone in an elite group knows each other but they have networks and political structures like primaries that allow them to act somewhat in concert and overpower regional interest groups.

10:53 PM  

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