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Is it part of human nature to have a hierarchy?

This question was mainly inspired by my history class. We were going over some Russian Marxists, and I thought it was interesting that even a communist regime will have a leader. This brought up the question, "Is it natural for humans to have a leader?" I thought about any organization and realized they all have a decently-defined hierarchy. I also thought about our cavemen ancestors and the sort of familial hierarchy with the father as the provider of food and safety (I haven't really studied anthropology, so tell me if I'm incorrect).

Feel free to ask clarifying questions, and I am looking forward to your responses!

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    Oct 15 2013: Despite society’s insistence on the value of leadership, we are, it seems to me, gradually moving away from the “alpha male / female” model, and developing teams where leadership is alike incumbent on all members. In working with teams of hardware and software engineers, I have seen how smaller, motivated groups of broadly talented individuals who hold one another accountable for overall performance can and do thrive without a traditional boss. The most rewarding work that I have engaged in has been in a dynamic environment where all information was shared in effective team meetings, decisions were made transparently and with buy-in and the roles that individuals assumed were often interchanged, per a commitment to peer processes and individual members’ development. This model should be exportable to other fields of study and pursuits.
    • Nov 1 2013: yes team work is changing but they are still accountable to someone higher. there is a difference between the change in the thinking of productivity and in the end of hierarchy. it has been shown that greater freedom and a more nebulous hierarchy with in a group that is focused on solving a particular problem is beneficial but within a company or organization too much freedom is detrimental. there will never be a company or organization or government that doesn't have a hierarchy. even a true democracy where every individual has equal power by vote wouldn't be free of hierarchy. there are followers and there are leaders but even the leaders follow sometimes and even the followers lead sometimes.
  • Nov 14 2013: 'fearing what might happen if they were left to their own devices, they gave themselves to the devices of others. Somehow, that seemed better. Somehow it seemed easier'

    Our 'nature' is a result of years and years of societal conditioning. Can one maintain a constant Awareness of that conditioning? Can one be aware of how 'naturally' they yield to external authority?
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      Nov 14 2013: I totally agree. We were not born with categories in our head they were imposed upon us
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    Oct 22 2013: Some thoughts
    1/. By definition leaders need followers to exist, so where there are leaders there is a hierarchy
    2/. Adam Smith Wealth of Nations says that successful economies have division of Labour = heirarchy
    3/. Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species looks at survival of the fittest = heirarchy
    4/. When we go to war someone orgainises the activities = heirarchy
    5/. Maslow Heirarchy of Needs = Heirarchy

    AND YET

    6/. Great Leaders provide vision for others, they promote flat organisations
    7/. Successful organisations promote teams that work with diverse skills and a common goal but no need for a leader
    8/. Myers Briggs, ENTJ types are yesterdays story (Discuss)
    9/. In a Social world, we all have our own communications channels, this facilitates teams and flatter structures of shared information and common causes
    10/. So is it about communication? Where we have too many people in a structure or poor communications systems you need a vertical structure to disseminate information and provide order and direction.
    11/. Is it about Education? Consider in the UK a Rugby crowd can get to the ground, drink alchohol all day and get home in an orderly fashion, no heirarchy, whereas a football crowd are banned from drinking alchohol, and require police supervision to get to and from the ground.
    12/. Ancient Greece, Athens - the founders of Democracy and modern civilisation, took decisions by persuasion

    So in summary it seems that the more people, the worse the circumstances and the communications channells the more the need for leaders and hence hierarchies.

    Hitler came about due to the privations in Germany following the First World war. They had Hyper inflation, everyone was in a bad way, communications broke down, the bullies and bureaucrats took over, and reason went out the window.

    So on balance it seems that Heirarchies may be a fundamental human need but they can be a bad thing as they allow people to be followers rather than thinkers, and that is dangerous
    • Timo X

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      Oct 22 2013: Athenians relied on their copious population of slaves to perform most of the work in their city. In addition, foreigners and women were not allowed to have any say at all. To say that Athens relied solely on persuasion and not on hierarchy requires a very selective reading of facts.
  • Oct 21 2013: The important thing is to distinguish between voluntary hierarchy and coercive hierarchy. People marched with Martin Luther King because of the power of his ideas. People worked for Steve Jobs because he created value. On the other hand, political hierarchies are unchosen. We are forced at the point of a gun to submit to the IRS and the National Debt and the millions of pages of laws. At a smaller level, children are told to submit to parents or teachers because they are bigger and older. This kind of hierarchy is the opposite of law and order and society, and I think we should be very careful not to confuse them.
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      Oct 22 2013: Very good point Russell. People need to agree with those in power to truly want to follow them. When you think about elections, what percentage of people truly believe in their options? Of course people tend to lean one way or another, but it's very black and white (Republican or Democrat for instance). When this decision is made, they are "stuck" with this decision until the next election.

      Maybe the key is that people need more flexibility in who they follow in a hierarchy? More finely broken down responsibilities and more frequent voting opportunities, and therefore greater ability to choose who they are following when it comes to issues and leader ship roles.
      • Oct 22 2013: What does it really mean, though, to have power? There is physical power, from my muscles, or from electricity, which I can use to build a house or to get from place to place. There is economic power, which can be used to incentivize others to do things for you by providing value in exchange. But political power is something much different I think. What do you all think it is?
        • Oct 25 2013: I tend to think that political power is influence, in the purest way of speaking. He who knows a lot of people, and is diplomatic with this people, is surely the one they will think first when asking for a favor. So it's the power of persuasion, maybe.
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          Nov 5 2013: I would suggest that political power is defined as the authority to influence and even control a community's decision making processes and agencies. Authoritarian groups do this with stealth, manipulation and intimidation. Authoritative groups use persuasion and reason. Which group do you think created and runs the U.S. homeland security agency?
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    Oct 19 2013: I'd ask why there's such a need for a single solution to so many questions? We seem obsessed with finding THE definitive single solution.

    Under some circumstances, humans and other animals form a hierarchy. Under other circumstances, they do not. Look at self-directed work groups and self-managed team working. There may be dominant members, but the group may be far more conscious in what it is projecting onto those individuals.

    Not all leaders need to be at the pinnacle of their organisation, either. Check out Robert Greenleaf and Servant Leadership, for example.

    Cheers
    Graham
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    Nov 14 2013: Heirachy is basically a constructed category which those in power use to oppress those they perceive as being inferior. It is not human nature, but we have used them to give ourselves some sense of self-importance. Babies are not born in to this world with categories. Through years of social conditioning they are taught them.
  • Nov 14 2013: In any field of human endeavor, there will be leaders and innovators,. One person simply cannot lead a lage group alone. Even in absolute monarchy, there seem to be groups of advisors, administrators, and grunts. In today's world of extreme specialization, a brain surgeon (for example) will consult with other brain surgeons before attempting new or controversial surgery. A rocket scientist will consult with colleagues; children playing in groups decide games by consensus and agree to take turns. The leader in any group is rarely a despot, but usually the one best at eliciting information and creating consensus. Thus it seems to me that there is never just one leader but nearly always one dominant voice in the group that articulates a the shared common goals.although the majority will generally prefer group consensus, there will always be outliers, as in statistics. There will always be the so-called individualists: those most comfortable being their own boss, finding their own way and thereby sometimes changing the direction of the whole group. Some of us just have to be our own boss, blaze our own trail,find new ingredients to put into old recipes and thereby create or stimulate CHANE or innovation.
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    Nov 11 2013: Hierarchies were a necessity in the last economic development stage. We needed them to scale up in all communities to organise people to achieve outcomes for economy/society . We needed them to mobilise capital to invest in channels and infrastructure. The hierarchy was necessary. It was not our natural state to seek dominance. We are under the false assumption that hierarchies are the only way to organise. We tolerate the failures of hierarchies. With the advent of the internet, we can now organise a different way. A shift from telecommunications (information distributed by proprietary channels between hierarchies) to telewisdom (exchange of wisdom between individuals). This is a return to hunters and gatherers ... small groups pursuing very specific outcomes and probably a leader. Mega hierarchies (in any community) are at the end of their useful life. Every aspect of society and the dominant hierarchy within each of them now demonstrates that it is more concerned by hierarchies survival or process, rather than satsifying broader community objectives. This is true of financial markets, government, education and all the major communities. The influence of a few have had a detrimental effect on community stability and achieving community outcomes. Management theorists highlight the need for distributed leadership and contribution in heirarchies. The next stage of development will crowd create network society, distributed contribution and distributed structures. Leadership will be dynamic, rather than entrenched. Transparency will ensure the "leader" always focuses on community outcomes (or is simply replaced in real-time). Even our largest hierarchies will be reduced to distributed leadership and structures. People will assume leadership in whatever community they need to in real-time in person to person groups. A 15 minute crash course is available at www.wisdomnetworks.im . We will move to distributed leadership and distributed structures within community.
    • Nov 11 2013: What about all the other mammalian species that have hierarchies and dominance-seeking behavior? Of course, if you're a young earth creationist, you can say that "God made us different" and have a logical answer. Is that your answer? How do you explain away the ubiquitousness of hierarchy among social mammals. Furthermore, can you prove that "hierarchy" equals and must equal the abuses of hierarchy that you mention?
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        Nov 12 2013: Humans are different from other mammalian species. We are the only mammalian species to have structures spanning thousands and millions (even billions). The group size of other mammalian species are too small to draw a comparison with. Other mammals don't have multi-layered structures. Mammalian groups do not have middle management or the elaborate complexity and processes of today's hierarchies. Most mammallian species have groups less than 30 (although herds of some mammals may have many thousands).

        It is part of human nature to have a leader in small groups. It is not part of human nature to have a hierarchy.The only comments I have heard humans make about hierarchies are stories of disempowerment.

        Hierarchy does not automatically equal abuse. Hierarchies are, and always will be, a way to organise. The growth and size of hierarchies has been the foundation of the last stage of economic development. There are four issues. Firstly, hierarchies are not transparent or accountable to the community. Secondly, they are also not productive or innovative enough to sustain a global population more than 6bn. Thirdly, they (in the words of Gary Hamel) "ask to much of a few, and not enough of everyone else". Fourth, there is an alternative which does offer transparency, accountability, productivity. The community has been crowd creating this alternative for decades.

        REDUCING COMMUNITY RISK BY USING A BETTER STRUCTURE
        The alternative also offers the opportunity to remove the system risk in multiple aspects of society. We simply have an alternative and a better way to organise.

        The issue is system risk in the structures we use to organise. If a drug kills more than X% of people, it is removed from the market. The hierarchy has gone beyond an acceptable threshold of risk and can no longer deliver prosperity. The system risk inherent in today's hierarchy necessitates a shift to distributed structures as the primary means to organise.
        • Nov 12 2013: If you are going to use "hierarchy", use it consistently. Otherwise, you just come off as incoherent, dogmatic propaganda. An organizational hierarchy is any organizational structure in which some level is "beneath" another in authority. If you have a bunch of small "communities" that have local "meetings" in which decisions are made, you have a two-level hierarchy. The meeting is a level above the individual person, NO MATTER HOW DEMOCRATIC THAT MEETING MIGHT BE. Unless each individual can legitimately and unilaterally ignore or countermand EVERY SINGLE DECISION of that meeting, you have a hierarchy. If those "communities" further meet in a "bigger meeting", you then have a three-level hierarchy, unless any community can simply ignore what the "bigger meeting" decides.
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    Oct 18 2013: I would like to change this Hierarchy, with common interest people and their right to follow.

    hierarchy is stupid Pyramid those who not follow it, they are outcasted and then they fight this hierarchy system and someone become spartacus while other become Hitler.
  • Oct 15 2013: I'm not sure its a part of human nature itself, its just incredibly beneficial in most cases.

    Without hierarchy, all are equal, and there is no real way to make any sort of decision except direct democracy. That system does have its advantages, but there are certain applications where it simply doesn't work--namely where time is a factor (no time to hold a vote in an emergency), and in places where the nature of the work doesn't sit well with democracy period (like the military or any other security service).
    Add to that direct democracy scaling poorly with size even for applications where it works well in small scale, and you end up with a need for a hierarchical system.

    In a nut shell, hierarchy begins where direct democracy ends.
    • Oct 19 2013: The nutshell has mold inside. Direct democracy is never defined by any sort of metric. Why the presumption that a vote gets the solution right?
      • Oct 19 2013: I'm not claiming direct democracy is a good thing, I'm claiming that its the alternative to a hierarchical system.

        I'm actually very much against direct democracy. I think its a bad system that allows the uneducated masses to make decisions instead of small groups of experts who actually know what they're talking about. The public is typically over opinionated and under informed; most issues are simply too complex.
        Democracy's main saving grace is that it allows for easier replacement of bad leaders without resorting to violence, and is inherently less prone to turn to serve the ruling class at the cost of the general population than other regimes (though less prone hardly means fool proof). Thing is though, representative democracy does both of those just fine, without all the problems that accompany direct democracy (size scaling, complex issues, emergencies, decisions that need be made in secret...). And the representative system is by nature hierarchical.
        • Nov 1 2013: not really, if it is a republic style democracy we elect people to make decisions for us. even in a true democracy where everyone's vote is equal there will still be those who lead by gaining others to vote the same through rhetoric, money, power, and influence.
  • Nov 14 2013: Humans strive organization.. social creatures require organization. The ants, bees, termites organize themselves to work. Prehistoric humans organized themselves to hunt (imagine hunting in groups with no coordination between members).
    Modern human structures whether corporate or government or familial all strive to achieve a certain goal... organizational formation is inevitable. Hierarchy rules will always arise. As much as there is a queen bee/ant/termite who is the central focus of the colony, human organizational structures even when even more complicated than those of insects will always have nodes-leaders that will serve as central points. Deeper thinking makes you realize than even energy distribution among animals also exist: remember the web of life? grass - herbivores - carnivores-scavengers etc...
    Hierarchy is not part of human nature. It is a working engine of nature itself.
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    Nov 14 2013: All natural hierarchical precedence of the human ancestral tree is going backwards (in the rear chamber of past events) and yet all humans are advancing at the same rate going forwards, no one is above or below a standard of unity in motion, unity in motion is an equality only extinction can eliminate. Is the extinction of species, a hierarchy of death in motion, humanity should be concerned about, given its acceleration in our time?

    Should other species have some kind of humane representation to protect and preserve their future habitats and environs, given the current so called ‘natural’ hierarchy is incapable of solving the problem of natural species rights beyond the perversions of capital gain and the ability to eliminate for greed?

    The problem with the capitalist hierarchy is in the fact the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, again and again (is this natural or conformity to a flawed system) and again! There’s no relativity or rational in the reality of reward for hard work, nationally or globally and yet we talk in terms of a global community utilising a global economy. Without regulation of the maximum reward for hard work, the minimum or living reward will always be impeded by the unregulated scale at the top. If you’re going to regulate the bottom of the natural hierarchy, is it not natural or prudent that you also regulate the top in a healthy democracy?
  • Nov 11 2013: I think that we are definitely interconnected and are wired to work together as social beings. However, to hold a hierarchy ... I think this may be more of an invention than a natural and essential structure. The idea of hierarchy seems to place more power into the hands of certain members and tends to value the powerful members of a group over others. Within hierarchy, reasoning seems to justify giving the powerful members of a group a greater share of the harvest/wealth accrued despite the efforts of all. I think that it is more natural for people to work cooperatively as equals. Things "get done" and everyone's contributions are valued. This probably sounds naive and idealistic. But think of how much suffering has resulted when people have tried to maintain power over others ... (their equals.) Eventually, there is an uprising or revolt ... the stuff that war is made of ... and I don't think that war is natural.
    • Nov 11 2013: Wolves have hierarchies. Gorillas have hierarchies. Chimpanzees have hierarchies. Rhesus monkeys have hierarchies. All social animals have hierarchies. If your hypothesis is true, then who "invented" the hierarchies of all those species? Hierarchy is not equal to "injustice". We are apparently hard-wired to have hierarchies, but that doesn't mean we must be vicious with the ones we have. It doesn't mean we can't construct them to suit goals other than aggrandizing a few. I know people who claim that we must abolish all machines because machines are evil, then they point to the evil done with machines. I respond that machines aren't evil, they just are. How we choose to use them could qualify as evil, but that's our choice, not the machines' fault.
      • Nov 11 2013: Let me give a simple example that may help to illustrate what I am trying to convey:

        There was probably a time when many people living in Kingdoms could not imagine living without their King and his successive heirs. Over time, things changed and eventually, elected leadership became more common. Imagine now ... an elected leadership of genuine civil servants who consistently served their constituents as true representatives. These leaders would not put their interests above the people. These representatives would serve as a voice for their constituents to represent the ideas and of the needs of the people who entrusted them as their representative. If the trust was not met with sincerity, a new representative could be sent at any time, perhaps the role might even be more like a revolving responsibility. But the elected representative would express the needs of their constituents when they were elected to do so and they would represent the needs of all, including the needs involved with sustaining the planet and animals (even the Gorillas.)

        We don't need to "throw out the Machine" but we do need to make some essential repairs and perhaps, build something better.
        • Nov 11 2013: What planet would these inhuman "civil servants" come from, and what species would they be? They would not be humans from earth. There have been attempts to set up such governments before, with "civil servants" that supposedly had no self-interest. They have all failed and ended in mass murder. The best we have in the real world are governments with limited power in which the damage that a given civil servant can do is minimized. A small handful of selfless people could be found, but they are far too few to man a government for millions or hundreds of millions of people.
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      Nov 12 2013: I think there is generally more discourse socially and politically around the minimum wage or the living wage than there is about the maximum wage in a healthier system of wealth distribution for the social contract of the working life given its nature is a temporal judicial reality of life in the bubble and truth should be a dependable constant. Should a living wage be universal in its application given the bulk of work is for a wealthier/healthier population than the one conforming to so many constants and so few full stops...how do you quantify the value of a human being in a free world?

      How should work be measured in a fair, responsible and transparent enough way to make law a rule we share collectively in the education process. Is the rule in the 99.999999% of reality we do not see, because it is the possession of another being? Is that the blinker holding back the true pedigree in every single one of us?

      If the living wage is a universal value system for a global community, the maximum wage should be no more than three times the living wage standard to return to a fairer equilibrium of life as a quality in variation and diversity for exchange in work. The social contract should be as democratically concerned with the maximum reward as it is with the minimum in a transparent democracy, responsibility is a two way street, not a one way distraction in a fairer rule of social justice.

      Should we have a maximum earn-able income to compliment a natural hierarchy and finite resources, with a natural law that is as democratically significant to an electorate as is the min, in a credible competition for power in a global economy of the people by the people...when is enough, enough, is it natural to have limitations, a cap on the maximum parameter in a transparent economy?

      How do you measure HARD WORK in a natural way, which satisfies transparency, responsibility and fairness in a global economy of the people by the people?
      If you’re reading this…You are the resistance!
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    Nov 10 2013: It seems that many hierarchies are created by specific personalities. Chickens have pecking orders perpetrated by aggressive birds upon the less aggressive in farm yards all over the world. In fact, a variety of humans and animal groupings have hierarchies perpetrated by the most aggressive, or intimidating or manipulative or charismatic amongst them targeting their own passive, sycophantic, opportunistic and self-serving members. Most corporate and political structures are hierarchical, mainly because it allows a small group of individuals to exert tremendous power and control over their enterprises and their constituents.

    And both animal and human groups are also populated by specific individuals that refuse to submit to the hierarchies who just want to do their own thing and who invariably end up outside the compliant social structure indicating that acceptance of hierarchies is not simply an Inherent trait.

    For humans, It seems the vast majority of people have lives circumscribed by fear and/or apathy towards those individuals fixated on power and control and they go along because self-interest invariably chooses the path of least resistance. If the domination is benevolent it is easier to go along than to challenge, but when the domination becomes too oppressive then the masses will rise in revolt. A scenario that has also been played out time and time again in human history.

    All of which suggests that hierarchies may be "Natural" for both animals and human beings but only as a result of fear and apathy towards those obsessed or fixated upon power and control. .Therefore, it seems self-interest is the inherent trait and hierarchy exploits that and is simply a by-product of passive self-interest. .
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      Nov 11 2013: Re: "And both animal and human groups ..."

      Are humans something other than animals? Why the distinction?
      • Nov 11 2013: This is a necessary distinction for people who want to claim an exceptional status for humans. Creationists say that "God" did it. Those who are not creationists have to swallow all kinds of cognitive dissonance and pretend that a lot of science was never done. It's quite pathetic to watch them. Hierarchy is natural. Likewise, men being physically stronger than women is natural. But, just as men's greater physical strength is not a license for men to physically dominate women, the natural existence of hierarchy is not justification to impose unjust hierarchy. The attitude is like that of modern luddites, who see some ill associated with a specific misuse of technology and then conclude that technology must be banned.
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        Nov 11 2013: One would expect a species that calls itself homo sapien sapien would be wiser than other animals but, sadly, as you seem to be suggesting such does not seem to be the case.
  • Nov 10 2013: I think it is instinctive human nature too for hierarchical groups to maintain order and felicitate function ability within a complex social structure. I think, however, it is more complicated than simple hierarchy, I speculate that it is human nature for individuals to be drawn towards different groups of communal responsibility.

    You have the spark, that person who always has an idea but not always the interest in figuring it out or implementing it. You have the mastermind/thinker who can see all the details of the idea and generally has a good idea of what needs to be done to accomplish it but may not be physically or eloquently able to get it done. Then you have those who are coordinators, they can take the details and the Idea explain it in a way a group can understand and monitor the process. This brings us to the doers, they don't normally come up with grand Ideas but they are more than willing to help in the process of producing the big idea. And finally, you have the cleaners, the ones who don't normally like to do the other tasks but who enjoy the outcome and don't mind cleaning up after them.

    I'm sure others can think of more examples... But this is how I see it.
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    Nov 6 2013: There is hierarchy. There's invisible borders between layers. We have invisible castes. You can notice them in the groups,fellowships, relationships, the way of acting and the way of living.
  • Nov 6 2013: We are primates. Primates have hierarchies. That doesn't mean that our hierarchies must be complex or unjust, of course.
  • Nov 1 2013: yes, we are pattern seeking animals and the simplest of patterns is a hierarchy. plus we tend to be sheep. that is why there are fanatics about everything. we like to follow, even leaders follow. it is also part of us because we have families, mom and dad at the top are leaders in various areas. my mom took care of the money, my dad the house/planning vacations. my dad worked, my mom took care of the kids. my dad bought the cars, my mom bought the food. we are ingrained in hierarchy from the moment of birth and even though we rebel in our teens we come back to it.

    we are democratizing and the power is being spread thinner but there will always be hierarchy in human society because it is the nature of human existence.
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      Nov 2 2013: Is the simplest a hierarchy? I seriously doubt it. Consider the amount of effort wasted to establish the dominant party, versus the ease with which a non-hierarchal organization might achieve immediate positive results.

      Why is it so easy to accept a pattern of behavior like hierarchical structure as “our human nature?” Go back only a few decades and you will find that it has been our “human nature” to engage in activities that today we would find abhorrent. Only three or four generations ago, an entire town, including young children, would gather to witness a hanging—a picnic often accompanied this spectacle. How many of us today have ever witnessed an execution, much less would enjoy a picnic lunch in the process?

      Like it or not, our “human nature” is evolving, and if we are to be compared with sheep, more and more of us are "black." Never should we accept as “part of our nature” any particular behavior or practice, including the need to follow a leader of an established hierarchy.
      • Nov 2 2013: To "form" a hierarchy may not be simple but often times hierarchies form themselves. We all have different skill sets, both physically and mentally, which allow certain people to acquire certain roles more easily. Some of these people are best suited to lead or rally people, their gift is the ability to unify. Others are thinkers, these people may have great ideas but are those ideas worth much if they are not communicated through someone with the right skill set to gain peoples' interest?

        I don't mean to generalize people and put people in boxes (because I know that there are many people who are multi-talented) but it is the easiest way to show my view. I think many people have a bad taste for words like hierarchy, laws, etc… but when broken down, these words can mean something a lot more simple. The things that we should fight are oppression, control, etc… not leaders and the likes.
      • Nov 6 2013: I have been in a few "non-hierarchical organizations". They were jokes.
      • Nov 13 2013: There is a difference between a biological imperative to have hierarchy and some sort of "need to follow a leader of an established hierarchy". Who would be so stupid as to not already know this? There is a difference between "hierarchy is innate to human nature" and "the current ways we express this innate trait are the ONLY ways that it can be expressed". Is it THAT hard to understand the difference? One might as well say that "our spectrum of color vision is innate to human biology" means that "We must always use the exact same color schemes in our decorating, century after century, millenia after millenia". The limits of our color vision is innate. That does not mean we are constrained to EXPRESS and USE those limits the EXACT SAME WAY for all of eternity.

        IS IT REALLY THAT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THE DISTINCTION?
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      Nov 9 2013: Hierarchy is the corruption of the masses and the privilege of the few, in which all shares were, basically are and always will be, equal, in a philosophy called - Whatever makes you Happy!

      I agree with the idea that parents act as preliminary hierarchy and that education is perhaps the secondary state of hierarchical significance in the appreciation of respect for positions of power as functional meaning, but, the purpose of power in the developmental stages is to empower the individual in the legitimacy of their own power of authority in the future democratic rule of law.

      If all power is democratically equal to the meaning of political choice available, between individual power of authority for law as a rule, why is the gap between the poorest and the richest so vast and how are you meant to measure quality of life as a standard in such extreme inequality derived from the tertiary hierarchical model of work?

      If education is fit for purpose and every child leaves primary/secondary hierarchy empowered should there be a tertiary world of hierarchy in work and if so how should it function to maintain reliable standards in life as a quality for the community it relates too?

      If the only purpose of hierarchy is a respect for power in the organizational significance of a particular functional union in relation to the universal functional union of life as a meaning, is financial discrimination justifiable in the modern age?

      Hierarchies may be natural, but, I’m just saying, financial differentiation is something we should democratically question and challenge as being cogent with expectation of quality in life, since the liquidity in financial income is directly correlated to this notion of a standard of living, a quality of assurance in fairness, responsibility and transparency for the meaning and function of work!

      70% of the world’s resources are being utilized and controlled by 1% of the Earths human population! Is there something wrong with this picture?
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    Oct 31 2013: In any group there will always be those who stand out whether it be for their prowess in a certain area or their charismatic personality or simply because they are more intimidating or manipulative than the others. This is a Natural occurrence. It is also Natural for human beings to delegate certain responsibilities to specific members of their community due to their expertise in the area or simply for expediency and convenience.

    However, Problems invariably occur with how much authority and power is conferred or simply seized by these "leaders". Human history is riff with instances of leaders who not only abused and misused their positions but also those they were supposed to lead. This occurs because the community they lead has surrendered their power and control to that leader or, as is often the case, the leader manipulates circumstances in order to garner that power and control.

    Many First Nations communities avoided this abuse of authority by retaining the power over decision making in the community. Leaders were chosen by the community and their mandate came from the community while the leaders simply had responsibility to carry out the consensus of the community. Something Western culture and its hierarchies seem to abhor and to the disadvantage of their communities when that authority is abused and misused.
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    Oct 31 2013: We seem to be social animals. I guess we evolved in mammalian groups with alpha makes etc.

    there is also a role for Hierachies in modern life to some extent imo.

    The trick is perhaps is perhaps supporting appropriate hierarchies. Not things like monarchies or dictatorships etc. Not idealising individuals.
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    Oct 29 2013: There is a subconscious animal instinct that seeks to control and for others to be led by seeking out a leader. There is perceptive comfort in belonging to a community. These (seeking to control and being led) are however indicative of some weakness and need to be resisted to create equal societies. However wherever we find lack of awareness (earlier called education), poor transparency, traditional cutlure and autocratic environments breed and promote hierarchy.
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    Oct 23 2013: I think any society, human or animal, needs some kind of hierarchy.
    If you put a group of people together they eventually will interact in some way. Any interaction needs somebody to take the initiative and at this moment you are already starting to build a hierarchy.
    I think a hierarchy can only be avoided when everybody lives complete for himself.
  • Oct 21 2013: I believe humans need hierarchy because at the end we are afraid to be too free, and fully responsible for ourselves. We need a father, a God, a leader, a spiritual guide, and lastly someone to claim against when things are turning bad for us. But it's funny that i think the above, while the biggest problem i have with my two / three boss in the office is that i don't respect the hierarchy and their roles. So we need the hierarchy but we also need to see the possibility to break it in some way and not respect it?
  • Timo X

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    Oct 21 2013: Yes, but it does not have to be ubiquitous. Humans, like many other animals, form social groups and such groups have hierarchies. You see very clear examples of this in schools or workplaces. On the other hand, there are plenty of parts in the human experience that do not have such a natural hierarchy. A free market, for example, does not have a clear hierarchy even if there is a market 'leader'. After all, the leadership here implies nothing but the largest share of sales (or some other arbitrary standard) and is dependent on an arbitrary definition of the industry that such a company is operating in. Another example is a democratic society. In a democracy, one person equals one vote and everyone has access to the same protection of the law, regardless of how powerful one is. Of course, there are plenty of examples where legal or market systems are affected by social hierarchy, such is the human condition, but they do not /necessarily/ have to be.
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    Oct 18 2013: The word 'hierarchy' has a negative connotation attached to it in our day and age. If we take the word without it's negative connotations than yes, hierarchy will always exists in our society as there will always have to be a group that is responsible for the affairs of the society. But if by "hierarchy" we also mean the authoritarian relationship between the ruler and the ruled then I don't think that is our only potential (human nature). Although history might not have many examples of such hierarchy but we have seen glimses of the potential in many instances in our lives.
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    Oct 16 2013: Yes, i do think it's natural for humans to have a leader. But it is a manifestation of some other natural urges and not a law by itself. What is natural is to look to others from time to time for answers; and the urge to have greater control or power if one thinks of oneself being more talented than the others. Every civilization or society that has ever existed has had a leader or a hierarchy. I attribute this to two reasons:
    1) Someone or some group being more intelligent, stronger, devious, accomplished or exuberant than the rest of the group.
    2) Passing on the established structure to the succeeding generations.
    Ideally i think a society will have equality and egalitarianism but only as long as there is equality in the talents of the group and the idea of independence and respect.
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    Oct 16 2013: Why not? Human mind can be seen as a complex system and as that it should follow the same rules of organization and hierarchy during its evolution.
    Choosing a leader and following him/her is very natural and I think it started from the days when humans were like just other animals who move in packs. This is the earliest of social behavior.
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    Oct 15 2013: Hierarchy in my view is a man-man invention, and although we live in hierarchical societies in one for or another, that have evolved over time, I am not a fan of hierarchical systems of governance - what give one man or one woman the right to think that they are better than or more deserving than another?

    At our most basic level we are all equal - we are all conceived in the same way and we all come into this world naked in a process of labour, blood and pain ... Yet as Dave Kelly has said we are all different - some people are natural born leaders and others are more comfortable following.

    Not all of the tribal ancestors of western Europe were patriarchal, some were matriarchal. Society was also arranged very differently then - there was a time in our ancient past where every man woman and child was valued and had an active part to play in the survival of the tribe based on the innate skills and talents of the individual. Where individuals came together and worked together in co-operation for the greater good. In those days a woman could just as easily be a War-Lord as a man, it was all based and judged on skill and talent. Not all hunters were men and not all gatherers were women.

    In our current configuration of hierarchical systems particularly political; it is not always the best, brightest and most talented that lead in the moment, dependent on needs of the situation, which is most unfortunate. So I find myself looking forward to a day when we overcome hierarchies. I think open-source networks are a better way forward, but I can't see our political leaders giving up their power for a more egalitarian system.
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      Oct 15 2013: Hi Anna

      I don't fully think hierarchy is a man-man invention. I mean you just need to look at the animal kingdom to see this is true. Everything from foxes to birds and all manner of primates have hierarchies in their social groups.

      Tiger
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        Oct 15 2013: Hi Tiger
        Cool name by the way... Thank you for replying to my comment. :-)

        It may not be a fully man-made invention or perhaps hierarchical systems would be more accurately described as social intervention and methods of crowd/population control.

        I do accept that in the animal kingdom, primates and other mammals do have versions of hierarchical social organisation however I don't think that the hierarchical systems within the animal kingdom are about control. In the world of the wolf it is not always the alpha who brings down the kill, they hunt as a pack, foxes are somewhat different in so far as when they pair up the do so for life, and once the cub are old enough to fend for themselves - they are very much on their own. (There are loads of foxes where I live, and they never hang out in a pack like wolves)

        Birds on the other hand flock - the leadership of a flock of birds is not fixed, the leadership is more fluid and very temporary - once the birds are on the ground or in a tree, there is no hierarchical pattern to their behaviour. The animal kingdom is also very diverse in its species behaviours so while there is validation for the concept of hierarchical systems on the one hand, on there other there is not ... it is only with mankind that hierarchical systems are seemingly entrenched.

        As in individualist I don't like the idea that others might think they have some kind of right to lord-it over me, try to control me or dictate to me and by the same token I do not lord-it over other people.
        The best that I can do is be myself, and do the best I can to live as a free-person within the boundaries of my moral and ethical code, while at the same time playing my part to make a positive contribution to my family, community and country - no-one has to tell me what to do, as I do these things of my own free will, because they are the right thing to do. The only person I really have a right, obligation and responsibility to control is myself
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    Oct 15 2013: 1) Everybody is different. You have some people who have the desire to be in control, are out going, and want to be in charge. And you have others that would rather sit back and follow. This is part of human nature I believe. The thing that needs to change is that people need to turn this from being a way to gain control, to being a way to achieve goals. Instead of wanting to be in charge of a group of people, use that energy to accomplish a personal or social goal.

    2) I think there will always be a need for some level of hierarchy. If an organization/society is large enough, tasks will not be able to be completed by all members. Yes you could most likely have a way of “voting” on what is to be done, but the actual execution of the task would need to be done by one person, or a smaller group of people. For instance if a city needed to plant pumpkins, obviously the entire city would not do this. There would be one person, or a group of people in charge of accomplishing this task. Technically I would say they were at the top of the hierarchy of pumpkin planting. But I would not say they were at the top of the hierarchy of the city.

    I believe we can get beyond traditional hierarchies in society (in terms of its entirety), but it will take a massive shift in how people think. When/how this will happen is the question.