Ming the Mechanic:
The Evolution of Governance

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 The Evolution of Governance2003-04-10 16:02
picture by Flemming Funch

Elisabet Sahtouris speaks lucidly about how life works, how evolution works, and how we can learn great lessons from the intelligence of nature. Here's from a small article on the Evolution of Governance:
"In studying the Earth's evolution, the most fascinating story I know is that of ancient beings who created an incredibly complex lifestyle, rife with technological successes such as electric motors, nuclear energy, DNA recombination and worldwide information systems. They also produced - and solved - devastating environmental and social crises and provided a wealth of lessons we would do well to consider."
That was two billion years ago, mind you. And we're not talking about extra-terrestrials, we're talking about our earthly ancestors, one celled microbes. Despite literally having no brains, they faced crisises very similar in structure to what we face today, and they developed peaceful synergetic solutions.
"Their crisis came about when food supplies were exhausted and relatively hi-tech respiring bacteria ("breathers" with electric motor drives) invaded larger more passive fermenting bacteria ("bubblers") to eat their insides out - a process I have called bacterial colonialism or imperialism. The invaders multiplied within these colonies until their resources were exhausted and all parties died. No doubt this happened countless times before they learned cooperation.

Somewhere along the line, the bloated bags of bacteria also included photosynthesizers, "bluegreens," which could replenish food supplies if the motoring breathers would push the enterprise up toward a lighter part of the primeval sea. Perhaps it was this lifesaving use of solar energy that initiated the shift to cooperation.

In any case, bubblers, bluegreens, and breathers eventually contributed their unique capabilities to the common task of building a workable society. In time, each donated some of their "personal" DNA to the central resource library and information hub that became the nucleus of their collective enterprise: the huge (by bacterial standards) nucleated cells of which our own bodies and those of all Earth beings other than bacteria are composed.

This process of uniting disparate and competitive entities into a cooperative whole was repeated when nucleated cells aggregated into multi-celled creatures. Once these biological "governments" evolved, they continued to function beautifully. What nature's healthy bodies and ecosystems exemplify are beautifully unified democracies of diversity, organized by locally productive and mutually cooperative "bioregions," and coordinated by a centralized service government. The underlying and overriding motive is toward healthy production and consumption for all."
And, if it isn't already clear, your body is one of the results. A democratic cooperative society of billions of individual beings.

Now, the question is, do you really want to come across as being more stupid than the bacteria in your intestines? It would be a bit embarrassing if we big complex beings with huge brains couldn't even figure out how to organize ourselves in a viable manner. If we're really stupider than the parts we're made of. Particularly when a several billion year unbroken succession of our ancestors has succeeded inpeccably until now.

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10 Apr 2003 @ 19:43 by petavie : woaho ! ( in french)
To put it simply, and yes !! Let's go !!!! To put it even more simply.  

12 Apr 2003 @ 15:40 by dwig : Patience
Thanks for the quote -- Sahtouris is high on my reading list.

A bit of perspective: If I remember rightly, the processes described occurred over geologic time scales. Perhaps we're on schedule, or even a bit ahead of it -- maybe it'll only take a few thousand more years to complete the process (if "complete" is an appropriate term here).

A bit more on this: I think, but could be wrong, that the advances took progressively less time -- for example a lot longer to go from prokaryotes to eukaryotes than to go from the first eukaryotes to multicellular creatures. If that's so, we should expect it to take thousands rather than millions of years to go from "nous" to "noosphere".  

12 Apr 2003 @ 16:23 by ming : Time scales
Yeah, you're right, it took a looong time. So, if we were going to duplicate the same thing, none of that tells us that it will be quick. But there does seem to be an acceleration happening as well, manifested in technology. A remarkable, enormous acceleration, which seems to indicate we're talking about decades, not millions of years.  

Other stories in
2010-07-10 13:01: Strong Elastic Links
2010-07-08 02:27: Truth: superconductivity for scalable networks
2010-06-27 02:28: Be afraid, be very afraid
2008-07-06 23:20: Laws of social networks
2008-06-20 15:40: Peer material production
2008-05-06 13:57: Why can't we stick to our goals?
2008-02-21 21:16: Open social networks
2007-11-08 01:49: The value of connections
2007-11-07 00:51: Diversity counterproductive to social capital?
2007-07-13 23:42: Plan vs Reality

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