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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


    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.

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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 . 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.

        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 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.

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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.

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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.
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    Oct 15 2013: I think this is where our baser instincts come to the fore, our animal side if you will. It is a very natural thing for some people to have greater strengths in certain areas. And the same goes for leadership. It is natural for any group to separate into where its strengths and weaknesses lie and that is part of our great survival instinct.

    Some people are natural leaders, others have many strengths but will contribute to any society in different (and no less useful ways). We all have different roles and functions. So yes, in conclusion, it is a very natural part of our nature to separate out and form hierarchies!
  • Oct 15 2013: It certainly appear to be the case, at least from what we have seen throughout history. One thing comes to mind when talking about say native hunter-gatherer type communities or tribes. These do have certain people who are selected because of their unique talents to act say as leaders or medicine men or women. For example in ancient Germanic society of the pre-Roman era, and also during, a leader or chief was selected if one was needed to lead the people say in war. However, obce this task was complete no one would follow him any longer since everything had been achieved. Later during the period of wandering at the edn of the Roman Empire very large congregations of people came together. For example the Alemanns were a tribe made up of several tribes and this was a very large tribe numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Once a tribe reached this kind of size or even quite a bit smaller the position of King became viable and on this followed the whole middle ages and its feudal system. So, yes once a human group is large enough you get a kind of hierarchy forming but not in the small necessarily. I don not believe that such a thing as hierachy MUST occur but it often does.
  • Oct 15 2013: I think it is ! Animals have hierarchies , plants have hierarchies , etc . I think it is unavoidable , it exists in our DNA . Even nature works by hierarchies .
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    Oct 15 2013: It's in your DNA, now, whether a single leader system continues in the future is up for debate but it is still in essence a form of leadership.
  • Nov 14 2013: It is a part of human nature to have a hierarchy. Without a hierarchy, there is no drive for innovation, or to get to what is next. Nor is there any desire to push beyond boundaries. In some instances, people have no inner motivation to grow and succeed there peers. It is more important to have a hierarchical structure in the this instance than any because these non motivated people will have no one to over see them and direct them in any direction.

    It is not only humans that operate in a hierarchical structure, most animals do as well. Birds fly with a leader, herds of animals have the alpha male, and bees have the queen bee. Life simply does not thrive and continue to grow without a hierarchical structure because life naturally is simply trying to survive. If every life form could sit around all day and drink cocktails on a beach, than thats all they would do, because that would be survival. Problems would be ignored and innovation would not occur. You might argue that there are people always driven to innovate and create change. However, Elon Musk, a person who could never just sit around on the beach, couldn't create Tesla or Space X without the hierarchical structure naturally setup with his business structure.
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    Nov 14 2013: I believe we have hierarchy naturally yes, its when the people in higher abuse the power they have. That is when the hierarchy needs to change or be removed, which causes complications. It's a never ending circle.
  • Nov 14 2013: If anyone is interested in learning more about animals and altruism here is an interesting link:

    I also liked what wikipedia had to say but there is a lot of information on this subject.
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    Nov 14 2013: first; thank you for this awesome question
    second; yes i believe so because of the desperate and a lmost instinctual need to for order that we all unconsciously have. I think this is a part of why leaders prevail sometimes.
  • Nov 14 2013: Il mondo fisico non ha l'autorità, mentre per il mondo umano essa è la condizione necessaria per una convivenza ordinata e pacificata.
    Con la scienza moderna al modo di Galilei il principio di autorità (epistemica) non vale più, mentre per la società tradizionale rigidamente conservatrice e gerarchica - in primis la società del XIX secolo- funzionava il principio dell'autorità deontica, ossia quella che prescrive i valori e controlla la condotta. Grazie della Vostra attenzione.
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    Nov 13 2013: It was survival of the fittest, the biggest, the bad-est - the toughest.
    Now-a-days it's the cleverest, the smoothest, the slyest.
  • Nov 12 2013: No. It's part of life and nature. It's also how we build and grow. (as seen in nature)

    You start with a stable foundation and you build on that which will lead to a hierarchy. What humans do(and wrongfully, imho) is judging based on the hierarchy who is "higher" or "lower", while we are equal valued. The hierarchy, again imho, just presents responsibility's and some might have a bigger responsibility than other, but is equal worthy because even if his responsibility is small, when it's not done: the whole hierarchy can collapse(which should be covered a bit by a stable foundation). But nonetheless, every part is important in a hierarchy because you will continue building on it.
    • Nov 13 2013: I think we are basically in agreement but our definition of hierarchy is not identical. However, When I look up hierarchy, the definition I find in The Random House Dictionary reads: (There is a bunch of stuff about the priesthood) and then these specific definitions that apply to our conversation 1. any person or thing ranked one above another 7. Government by an elite group. So ... imho ... social structure and cooperation is natural but placing one person above another or leadership by the "elite," is a social invention.
      • Nov 14 2013: Yes, then we agree but your answer on the original question would still be no.

        "Is it part of human nature to have a hierarchy?"- No. It's part of (social)nature.

        And even the social structure and cooperation is not human nature because you will find it through the animal kingdom. Chimps, wolves and so on. You'll also notice that these animals also are social so idd, the social invention thing comes in with leadership etc.

        I also found that the leader used to be the strongest(in primitive times, he was the fittest) for protection. But now the responsibility of the leader goes more towards the person who can utilize the group the best(strategist, in company terms CEO). So when disecting hierarchy you will always find that it revolves around responsibilities, and ranks will be determined by that and the needs.

        Social structure and cooperation can be found with social species, which human is just part of but not exclude to.
  • Nov 12 2013: Perhaps this is where we feel most differently, Bryan. I do not feel that social structure must equate to a hierarchy. One may serve as a "leader" (facilitator) yet be a civil servant. The position may even rotate and be shared. Let me give an example: I was driving on the freeway today and it was an unusually traffic-filled morning complete with someone losing a tire that flew into my lane, and someone else having left a ladder in a different lane that I was driving in ... then, there was the impatient driver that swerved from a dead stop into 60 mile an hour flow lane which forced me to brake to avoid him. It may sound chaotic and it can be ... no doubt. But despite the occasional reckless driver, the great majority of people on the road were taking care to safely get where they were going. There were no cops that I could see at any point during my hour long drive yet, I made it safely to my destination and even called Highway Patrol to have someone remove the ladder. There are codes of conduct/laws/roles but very few officers to enforce them on the freeway and in general society. I have heard the officer to citizen ratio is something like 1/1000 to 1/2000. We rely heavily on the cooperative nature and common sense/goodness of the the average person to maintain social structure. Now, not every country works this way. There are countries where smaller cars must yield to larger vehicles, There is essentially a type of hierarchy on these roads where one vehicle has a certain authority over others and this can work as well. But in U.S., we can organize and create equitable structures where "leadership" is shared and power is therefore shared. Can it happen in a hierarchy? Possibly, but it can also happen without leadership as we know it: where community members work as participants and at times as representatives (or leaders) to share the responsibilities of facilitation as a service to their community. The leader serves all. These are Constitutional ideals.
  • Nov 12 2013: You could go to a kindergarten, have a ten minutes look to the little kids gathering there. They will tell you a lot about the hierarchic tendency of our species (which is very similar to the rest of monkey species). From my point of view: Some of us have a lazy nature and some an ambitious one. The lazy will follow the ambitious because they don’t feel like bothering and the ambitious will always act a little assholish because Hey, what the heck, they have to make all the effort and they deserve some privileges for doing so.
    Humans, as any organisms, have a propensity to feel comfortable and it is difficult to feel comfortable when you live in an non hierarchical structure. That’s what the social contract is all about: please take some freedom from me so I can feel safer.
  • Nov 12 2013: Bryan ... I believe that evolution is possible and that people can continue to evolve ... and must evolve, if we are to survive. Can we change our ways of relating before we destroy ourselves? I don't know ... some days I have my doubts but someone invented the wheel and look how far we have come. Sadly, much of our potential has been directed at developing war technology and now, we can easily destroy the planet many times over. It is time to dedicate ourselves to peace technology and new, more equitable ways of relating. We may disagree but it seems clear that we must learn to understand and respect each other before people like us have nothing left to argue about. So, hierarchy ... perhaps it has helped to carry us to where we are but can we find a way to work together as true equals to move forward from this place ... to survive?
    • Nov 12 2013: Evolution does not have a predetermined direction. Hierarchy has nothing to do with "war technology". Hierarchy also is not innately unjust. An organization in which the best skilled and wisest run things is a hierarchy, even if they were put there by a vote of everyone else. What you want is anarchy--everybody gets to do what they want and nobody has any authority to stop this, even if murder is the issue.
      • Nov 14 2013: Wow ... I don't see how you have come to this conclusion. I have no interest in Anarchy. I am interested in a government by the people and for the people where all people share equal rights ... you know ... Liberty and Justice for all ... these are Constitutional ideals ... Democratic ideals. We may not be there yet ... no doubt ... but we are capable of evolving and of developing a better social structure and the technology that can lead to peace.
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    Nov 11 2013: yes that's what i think, that's in our blood :(
    sad but true...
    • Nov 12 2013: Why is that sad? Is it sad that men are stronger than women or women more communicative than men? Why not work to capitalize on individual differences to produce a just and pleasant society, instead?
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        Nov 13 2013: well i am not sure, but what i thing u can't keep the balance if you think in that way...
        and the balance is important for the society !
        • Nov 13 2013: What is "the balance"? Sounds like mumbo-jumbo claptrap. Hierarchy is natural and innate. That doesn't mean it must be an unjust and unfair hierarchy. Are you saying that men are not naturally physically stronger than women? Or are you saying that if men are naturally physically stronger than women, then they must use that strength to dominate and abuse women? Which is it?
        • Nov 14 2013: I am with you Wap Trick ... balance is essential for a healthy social structure. There are many kinds of strengths ... two of the most important are intellectual strength and the ability to maintain compassion for other beings. (Brute strength ... this is more important for Gorillas).
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        Nov 13 2013: Bryan, what evidence in our history suggests that the human hierarchies want a just and pleasant society?
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    Nov 11 2013: As many have already pointed out, a hierarchal system already exists within nature, across numerous different species. Perhaps we have simply followed nature's cues in this regard?

    Obviously, what makes our hierarchal system a lot different from other species is that we have a tendency to categorize and label everything. But yes, I think it's only natural for us to have a "leader" or "leaders." Yet it appears that we tend to have a cynical view of our "leaders," as they generally become scapegoats rather than figureheads that we look up to or aspire to be. In other words, "leaders" are the ones who take the blame and are held accountable for everything that goes wrong, and I believe that it is this bastardization of hierarchy that also sets us apart from other species.
  • Nov 11 2013: I think we are in agreement but are probably approaching this topic with different language. I think that social structure, even social structure with leadership does not necessarily need to be a "hierarchy". Or as you say, hierarchy does not need to aggrandize a few at the expense of others. Unfortunately, there are so few examples of fair distribution of wealth and resources within hierarchies that the term hierarchy seems almost synonymous with inequity. But, I agree this is not actually the true definition, nor does it need to be. I am not a religious person but I think of Jesus and his encouragement that the greatest of us are the servants to all. And I know of leaders who lead like this and are altruistic. As far as gorillas, monkeys other apes and furry animals, we humans share similarities, it is true. Yet I hope we are continuing to evolve and ideally that this will be to create a more equitable and fair society. Is possible for a hierarchy to be comprised of people who care as much for their fellow beings and for the earth as they care for themselves? I hope so ... our survival may one day depend on this.
    • Nov 12 2013: Social structure with leadership IS "hierarchy".
  • Nov 11 2013: It is part of NATURE nature to have a hierarchy.
  • Nov 10 2013: Hierarchy is not human nature but rather cultural. For example, numbering less than a tribe a band is an example of a human society that is not at all hierarchical but rather egalitarian. As the population gets larger the society becomes more hierarchical. It is merely a strategy of survival.
    • Nov 11 2013: Tribal bands are hierarchical. This "tribal egalitarianism" was a 19th-century romantic fluff that anthropologists have disproved.
      • Nov 12 2013: If you consider going to your elders for guidance as hierarchical then yes. Show me evidence that bands are NOT egalitarian.
    • Nov 12 2013: I do not have to prove a negative. The onus of proof has always been upon those who make a positive statement. That's how it works. Otherwise, if I claim "Invisible unicorns do not run the universe." then someone like you can just say "Show me evidence that invisible unicorns do not run the universe." and then claim that invisible unicorns MUST exist and run the universe, since I couldn't prove they didn't. This is something that is covered in a high-school level logic course.
      • Nov 12 2013: All that text and you gave nothing to your claim. Well I would say start by looking at the definition of a band society. Remember a tribe is different from a band.
        • Nov 12 2013: You have still not shown that one must prove a negative. You have demanded proof of a negative. Such a demand is invalid and only indulged in by the intellectually dishonest. Give proof for your contention that tribal bands are egalitarian.
      • Nov 12 2013: Search band society. All sources describe bands as informal authority, egalitarian, or elder guidance. I cannot copy and paste from phone but there is plenty of material defending my statement.
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    Nov 10 2013: I think yes. Heirachy exists in all species that I know of. So perhaps it may not be specifically HUMAN nature, per-se. Perhaps, if we continue to want to distinguish ourselves from other life forms on this planet the next evolutionary step would be to eliminate the heirachal tendency... But i personally think that'll never happen and would infact be detrimental to our evolution (which, lets face it, isn't exactly going anywhere anyway)
  • Nov 10 2013: I believe it is human nature. People are naturally drawn to the strong and it is needed to run an effective organisation or culture. If the hierarchy is weak then the population simply disbands and in time will form a new hierarchy. I know this is a very broad out look after you strips away the political motives, how a hierarchy is elected or what happens when a population is suppressed. If you wanted to you could date it back to the most successful breeders.
  • Nov 9 2013: If evidence of our past is any indication, then yes it is indeed part of our human condition to accept a hierarchy. The fact that one person can control so many who are one day loyal subjects and the next day an angry mob looking to kill their ruler, can only indicate that as a whole, humans accept living under other humans as long as this ruler has some degree of loyalty to the ruled.
  • Nov 9 2013: I think it is the result of education
    • Nov 9 2013: Who educated gorillas to have hierarchies? Who educated chimpanzees to have hierarchies? Who educated baboons to have hierarchies? Who educated Rhesus monkeys to have hierarchies? I could keep going.
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        Nov 9 2013: Just like humans animals learn about their hierarchies from their own groups with the dominate ones enforcing the process and the rest of the 'tribe' either complying or being driven out or killed while humans defame, discredit or otherwise ostracize the non-compliant. .In both groups it is invariably the bullies and the charismatic that rise to the top of their hierarchies.
        • Nov 9 2013: But who "educated" all those species to have hierarchies in the first place? Who "educated" wolves to have hierarchies IN THE FIRST PLACE? Who is the entity that "taught" them "you shall have hierarchies"? What were they like BEFORE the first hierarchy was imposed, and how was it imposed in all of these different species?
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        Nov 9 2013: I agree. And while education culture, nurture, indoctrination whatever may shape hierarchies, the global occurrence of hierarchies seems to support there being some natural impulse underlying.
        • Nov 9 2013: Hierarchy is natural, just like men being physically stronger than women (in general) is natural. It doesn't mean that men should use that physical strength to dominate or abuse women, it's just part of nature. We have a moral responsibility to not use "it's natural" as an excuse to perpetuate injustice. Thus, while the mere existence of hierarchy is biologically hard-wired, how we express that is up to us.
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        Nov 11 2013: i know that sometimes what seems simple can become very obtuse, however see above for clarity or not
        • Nov 11 2013: So, is it "God" who "educated" all these different species to have hierarchies in the first place? If hierarchy is a purely external factor, to which a species had to have been educated to adopt, what is the origin of that primal "education"? Who implemented it? Now, if you want to say "God taught them", that's not even theoretically refutable, but it's also not even theoretically scientific. "God did it." is a bit of a cop-out. But if you don't want to invoke "God", then you have to posit some sort of natural mechanism. Either it is ingrained into animal life at some level, or it is "taught", and if "taught", who "taught" it to the wolves, the humans, the gorillas, the baboons, the ants, and the bees? Where can we find this entity?
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    Nov 9 2013: I think Yes. It's part of human nature or it's his long-lasting habit to have hierarchy. The most powerful expression of this human nature or habit is the mental creation of external God which accordingly rules the universe and commands the Man.
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    Nov 5 2013: When it comes to political hierarchy in a representative democracy the consensus seems to be that the political party with the most voted in members gets to wield political power as if it was a game to be won or lost and is retained as long as that party is able to keep winning the game. In dictatorships that power is simply seized and held onto.. In a monarchy it is simply assumed and retained out of inertia and habit. In a participatory democracy it is bestowed but can be withdrawn at any time by the electorate.

    For a government 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?
    • Nov 9 2013: You over-state the reality of power distribution in a representative democratic state. In a representative democratic republic, for example, there are institutional limits in place, such as a need for supermajorities to enact some laws or block some minority actions, codification of "rights" that a sitting government cannot violate without employing several supermajorities, supremacy of the courts in interpretation of law, even jury nullification. All of these significantly reduce how much the "winning" party wields power. Likewise, if it is a true federal government, in which there is actual shared sovereignty among different levels, each level acts, so some extent, as a brake on the other. A lower level can obstruct a higher, a higher can regulate a lower, and dedication to the federal ideal prevents both secession and centralized oppression (much, if not all, of the time).
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    Nov 5 2013: The nuclear family implies a hierarchy that generalizes through extended kinship relations and eventually political organization. Authority has adaptive advantage in that Obedient offspring would make fewer blunders (which could be fatal).
  • Nov 1 2013: A great question and I think Mr. Clegg points to an even better one. I think the idea of hierarchy gets muddled by the more simplified idea of dominance. Our cooperatives must be in some way different from that of a wolf pack or a lion pride but why? Does language allow us to understand our roles more clearly? Is it our ability to specialize our contribution to make ourselves vital to community success?

    Whatever the case. Remember that we are not animals. But then again I've never met a powerful leader who would willingly step aside when his expertise was no longer required so maybe there is still too much animal left inside us.
  • Oct 31 2013: Yes there has always been a pecking order and always will be.. Even Anarchists are tribal, they just wont admitt it. The Framers of the US Constitution each had interesting points of view on this matter and much of the Government structure of the US as a result is modeled in accordance with the framers belief. The only way a pecking order in a large society isnt totally oppressive is through checks and balances. The US government today has so many regulatory and defense agencies who do not have checks and balances and that is undermining our freedom as is evident by what goes on here with NSA, IRS, and DOJ scandals.. Order needs to be balanced with the proper democratic infrastructure.. Power delegated most also be compartmentalized
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    Oct 31 2013: Yes, it is natural and had contributed to our advancement up to this point. Heirarchy is going to be a natural result of divisions of labor, and divisions of labor allow us to cultivate a greater variety of ideas, trade them more effectively, and then advance in every aspect of our existence. Heirarchy, even if is as lightweight as a "telephone chain alert" still requires someone to initiate the alert.
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    Oct 31 2013: This is a great topic. I think in some ways we are all meant to be leaders. We are meant to lead ourselves. In the absence of this self leadership a hierarchy does form. I think that the best thing we can do four our world and our fellow man is foster this self leadership and break down the old bureaucratic hierarchies.
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    Oct 30 2013: Wow! good topic. It is the norm, that any kind of of business, community, or organization have a hierarchy. I think it's important to have it in order for the "group" to function properly. Someone has to oversee all task and make sure they are done correctly. To answer your question I believe it is part of human nature to choose a leader who we believe will improve our way of living, that leader will probably then choose who he believes is more reliable with certain task. Although not all the time we choose correctly, this is our hope. Funny enough even though we seek improvement of our way of life through this leader, we still fear change, and that is also human nature to my understanding.
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    Oct 29 2013: I have no training in these sorts of things but tend to be more observant than most—well that is what I noticed.

    In simple percentages I would say about 80% seem to need a leader or to be the leader. There is another 10% of the population that just don’t want to be managed by them. And the remaining 10% just do not care what other people think.

    Since the majority usually forces its desire upon the village and those that don’t want to be comply with the community are not welcome I believe an evolutionary tendency would be inbreed.

    Now for the hierarchies that may simply be the simplest (straight line) to getting the directive from the leaders all the way down. Each link must earn the trust of the chain above that it will carry out the rules as directed.

    If it takes you one minute to convey to a person said rules and you must inform 343 persons this will then take a time of 343 minutes but instead if you tell seven persons which tell seven persons which tell seven persons then total time would be 3×7 or 21 minutes. Since this conveyance is done in parallel time is saved.
    L*N^1/L == 3 * 343^1/3 == 3 * 7

    My son at nine made the observation that the lead dog cannot be too far out in front of the pack [to be effective]. I am so glad my observation skill made it to my kids.
  • Oct 28 2013: Show me a society that does not have a leader and I'll show you a Darwinian in awe...
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    Oct 25 2013: I believe it is in human nature to seek guidance. We often look around for those who "know", hoping we can learn from them. Even great leaders sought the guidance of others; dead or alive. Human or omnipresent.
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    Oct 21 2013: Hierarchy is essential for any well organized society, more importantly for humanity. The focus here should be order; no one is saying (or should be saying) a section of humanity is more important by the virtue of their position. The entire staff of Apple can not go to a Tech conference as representatives, neither can 140million Nigerians go to sign some UN resolution, neither can a 2 year old provide a vision and direction for a family.
  • Oct 20 2013: Hierarchy is part of society's nature. The sole concept of social structure implies and requires hierarchy. Hierarchy is not exclusive of humans, any living organism capable of organize into a society will develop a hierarchy, just take a look at animal world and realize every social animal from ants to lions have developed a system of hierarchies. It is society itself who forces hierarchy upon individuals even if they don't want, leaders arise more due to social pressure than because of their own will.
  • Oct 20 2013: As the history has told us that people are different with people and every one has own ideas. If you are in a group, you are allocated to finish something, you should cooperate with others to finish it. So you have to choose a people to be a leader. It is the orginal organization hierarchy.
  • Oct 20 2013: Hierarchy and the need to have a leader are two different things. There may be so many hierarchies like Ecnomic Hierarchy,Social Hierarchy,Political Hierarchy,Organizational Hierarchy,Human Resource Hierarchy.A person may belong to different levels in all the hierarchies.Socially a person may belong to the to lower caste , but in the economic hierarchy he may be a billionare. An organization can have an younger CEO having a age of 40 yrs , but his subordinates may be older than him, bu the same CEO may be the younger kid in the family.

    Hierarchy is always dynamic . Hierarchy is not the need it is natural , but sticking to the hierarchy creates problem , which is the root cause of the problems in this world.

    The need of a leader has nothing to do with hierarchy. The leader is proactive person who brings together the resources ,assembles them and marshalls them in a cohesive and unified way to guide the team,organization,society etc and achieve the common goal or objective.

    In a family when the kids are younger and helpless the father is the leader of the family , but when the same father becomes old then the kids are the leaders of the family. The hierarchy still remains the same but the leadership role changes.

    To fly a plane carrying 500 hundred passengers a pilot is needed.Just imagine if all the 500 hundred passengers try to fly the plane then what would happen ?
  • Oct 19 2013: It is part of animal nature to have a hierarchy and so humans as animals also naturally form into hierarchies.
    Just take any species and you don't have to study them for long to see that they have a top dog!
  • Oct 19 2013: Care to comment on the inevitable corporate takeover of legislative process in the absence of influence limiters like public election funding, free TV and radio time to match propaganda(s)?
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    Oct 19 2013: Whole animal history, makes people be similar to animals in some things. This is one of them. Animals have herds as organization, so they collectively comes easily to the catch. It is natural to have a leader in herds, and the leader is on the top of the herd (because he is leding them), when they go on rampage.

    So, it is in human nature to have a leader.
    Every way of organisation of society, confirms that, starting from ancient folks, till now days. And if we imagine,that there's not society organisation, at all, then, the organisation would probably be in the small communities,families etc. but even that kind of organisation (small communities) would have a leader, who represent the community, and interests that they have.
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    Oct 19 2013: i would think some people are going to work harder and take more positive risks than others, so they will be more leaderly. However, at Stanford I was exposed to consensus decision-making, there was one dorm that practiced it, any decision they had to make they would keep talking about until all 60 members of the dorm agreed with the decision, sometimes it took five minutes, sometimes five hours. In this system some people are probably more influential, but not exactly leaders in the classic sense.
  • Oct 19 2013: Your questions itself is seriously flawed. Russian neo-Marxists were revisionists that threw out Marx’s ideal which was that the state withers away. In fact this withering away of the state is foundational in both older Marxism and Libertarianism, Butler Shaffers incredible book, Boundaries of Order (here for free: brings in complexity theory to analyze in depth the nature and structure of hierarchy and its evolutionary change. That is what your question completely misses, evolutionary change.

    The necessity for a hierarchical system is predicated upon the state of the extent technology and its effect on resources. In the realm of necessity,. Where resources are scarce and communication and travel is long, and defense is necessary, the need for a pyramidal shaped political order with an elite at the top and everyone else at the bottom is needed. As science and technology evolves and resources become more and more abundant and their price falls, when communication is instantaneous and travel easy and cheap, when the Technium is evolving an interrelated system from the bottom up putting more and more control and power in to each individuals hands and with the arrival of 3D printing the creative capacity of every human being will soon be exploding, thus ending all alienation, one can see a holoarchy (Schaffer) arising. The need then for a top down hierarchical order fades away and was thus a historical category. Once our brains and ideologies catch up, and the simian part of our brains quit wanting to worship the totem fetish State, the old order is done for. Humanity will no longer need the silver backed alpha male in all of its guises to "protect us" and enslave us for our own good.
  • Oct 19 2013: Nature dictates it, of which humans are only a part.
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    Oct 19 2013: If everyone shares the same purpose/idea with in a group there should be no need for any true leaders.
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    Gord G

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    Oct 19 2013: We're hairless, clawless, weak, slow and not particularly aggressive compared to most mammals. Simply put, one on one we would have trouble dealing with a raccoon in our garbage bin. A hierarchy is a social structure. It's a pact created between individuals to assure mutual safety.

    If you want to see this evolutionary adaptation in a modern primal environment...look at gang activity. It's raw survival instincts.
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    Oct 18 2013: How tall are you, and what's the circumference of your biceps?
    • Oct 19 2013: Hey,Man,are you drunk? what do you mean?
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        Oct 19 2013: I was pointing out that hierarchies started with the physically stronger powering over the weaker; and they still do.
        Leaders in the animal kingdom emerge from a simple contest of who is the stronger; and originally in the human kingdom likewise.
        Europe's royal families originated from those strong-arm guys who grabbed land from weaker people and then instigated a legal frame-work, backed up by military force, to keep those people from taking their land back.
        Nowadays, the ultimate recourse of leaders is still physical force; done via the police or military (for example) to break up protests by the people.
        • Oct 19 2013: Its still very much true today, and always will be.

          Hierarchies allow for greater levels of organization and cooperation, and are the only way of instilling rapid and/or secret decision making. In short, requirements of waging war--there's a reason military and paramilitary groups have extremely strict hierarchical structures (so rigid that peacetime efficiency is usually adversely affected).

          Any non hierarchical group will be at a tremendous disadvantage in an armed conflict. In other words, it won't last very long--there are always vultures circling above, looking for easy prey.
  • Oct 16 2013: Think it is part of nature - alpha male/female in a pack of wolves, herd of elephants follow female, etc.
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    Oct 16 2013: I you think women dont run things ( the boss) just try telling her how to cook , how to drive or how to raise kids If you think you ( us men , us big strong men ).run things just try those examples and see who sleeps on the couch
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      Oct 19 2013: Haha, depends on how you look at it. Oh, I know there is one out there to tell me how to turn a wrench. How to crawl in the attic with out going through the ceiling when she wants the christmas tree down. How to throw a ball. How to make the kids happy when it's not christmas or birthday. How to troubleshoot and fix anything that is broken on the car that you can't tell her the reason the clutch has gone is because of her driving habits. Why I should not think analytically and melodically. I guess this is when I lose all meaning and virtue in life. No one runs things, we all have our place in time. People can think what they wanna think I guess.
  • Oct 16 2013: You seem to be ignoring mothers and other women. They lead most cultures in myriad ways.
    Many cultures have very different systems of self government than despotism or rule by one "man", such as native American tribes, where there are leaders in different areas and counsels of elders.
    Women control the camps, including deciding when and where camps will be moved or placed. They also eject males who are disruptive or dangerous to children or abusive to others and provide medical care, among other things.
    One man or more might be followed as chief for war or raiding, another for inter-tribal relations, and there are usually tribal elders, men and women who are old enough to have the wisdom and experience to make tribal rules and decisions.
    This extremely simplified bit of info on tribal governance includes many cultures on the two American continents and worked well for thousands of years.
    Both men and women may be spiritual leaders and teachers. Someone who is good at making weapons or baskets will be the leader with regard to those activities if people want to follow them.
    Counsels of elders are extremely common.
    I wonder if there are subtle genetic differences between geographic regions that are reflected in governance. Like the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees.
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    Oct 16 2013: Side note:
    - A society can only function, if the values of that society support its operation. In a society, where self gain and competition are rewarded virtues, the ruling ideology will tend to uphold it as "A part of human nature". Just like in a slave owning society, the general world view would be that slavery is inevitable and a part of life.

    Our society is built on self-interest and competition, and one of the consequences of this is of course social hierarchy (class division), among many others.
    • Oct 16 2013: Hello Huey,
      Don't you think our society still supports the interest of the group? We do still have schools, rules of the road, free emergency care for the poor, although tea partiers want a new order that seems only to value self-interest and competition in certain areas. They do not want to compete for votes.
      Even Gerrymandering is a group and not a self-interest, but the group is using it to manipulate other citizens for the benefit of that limited group.
      People are fighting for societal benefits, such as Obamacare and Social Security, which we all agreed to pay for so we could later benefit from them, but since that's where the easy money is for raiders, they're being targeted. Like leveraged buy-outs being legally permitted to steal people's earned pensions and worked and contracted for health insurance.
      Unfortunately the self-interested are very loud and stupid right now, and cannot seem to see that gutting the social contracts we have fought for for generations would impoverish American business and destroy our safety nets, thereby destroying our real safety. Creating a whole generation of desperate poor is a very dangerous thing, but there are a lot of childish and ill educated congressional boobs who have been allowed to control things they don't understand.
      Anyway, people in general know that self-interest quickly destroys social cohesion and then everything heads towards chaos.
      We have systematically allowed competition to dry up in business. There are only two real operating systems for computers, for example. And only a few airlines, a few oil companies, a few huge pharmaceutical giants, and the rules limiting media ownership have been trashed.
      What are we going to do about it?
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        Oct 16 2013: You have to start small, and start, at least partially, within the current system. Use the system to give you the power to make the changes you want to make.
        • Oct 25 2013: And as you are gathering the money and power necessary, hope success doesn't change you enough to make you stop wanting to change things for the better for others.
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        Oct 16 2013: ill give you simple example:
        The United states offers healthcare, but you have to have money in order to obtain medical insurance, and hence have the qualities of good health, but remember, it is not free, why? because the insurance companies need to make a profit, and if you don't have any money, well then too bad for you, you can go die because your not worth any value in the "economy". - This is the true nature of society where competition and self-interest is the foundational incentive.

        You can talk all day about the great things the market system can offer like schools, transportation, "rules" or law (which is a tangent i don't even want to get into right now), but at the end of the day, the only thing allowing those institutions exist, is the potential profits that can be earned, and profit will always come before a persons well being. Tell me why majority of students coming out of university are drowning huge amounts of debt? oh yea, because the companies that loaned the money to them in the first place doesn't give a shit about their education, their looking forward to the interest payment/profit they earn from the student, or i should say millions of students.

        So yea, our society does not consider the actual well being of people, in fact the well being of people will always be secondary, if not even in the equation of making a profit, that's just nature of business, and hence what is rewarded. .
        • Oct 17 2013: We're messed up, but we're on a financial pendulum shifting back and forth between the good of people and unearned profits for business.

          Right now it’s cranked all the way over to give banks and schools every benefit versus students.

          A brief history of the Student loan debacle:
          1) Banks got Fed to insure all student loans.
          2) Banks got deregulated so they could loan more to lousy schools & students who might never finish or repay loans. (And home buyers who were never able to repay mortgages). Schools that were flooded with loaned up students raised tuitions. (Home prices skyrocketed)
          3) Bush got bankruptcy law changed so student loans could never be voided. This should have taken a constitutional amendment, but no one’s challenged it that I know of.
          Bankruptcy is a constitutional right and also in the bible but most people don’t know the student loan restrictions are anti-biblical and anti-constitutional. And pro-business = anti-person here.
          4) Great and lousy schools pushed more students into higher debt, driving tuition ever higher.
          5) Students became poverty stricken forever.

          This piecemeal revamp of the student loan programs didn’t raise any pirate flags that would surely have flown high if all these changes took place at once.

          Student loans should again be voidable in bankruptcy and students whose educations were substandard should be able to sue shareholders, officers and directors of their schools, which shouldn’t be able to declare bankruptcy to avoid liability. That’s a pendulum swing I’d like to see.
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        Oct 19 2013: "We're messed up, but we're on a financial pendulum shifting back and forth"

        This is the definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
        Look back at every decade. This is the final rope we are on here with this. Technology has become too advanced to keep up with.
        • Oct 25 2013: Certainly technology seems to be moving too fast for humans to keep up with, although kids growing up with it may be all right.
          It's massive disruptions like climate change that seem most pressing. We can see from the mega storms and flooding and droughts what we're doing, but so far we don't know how many volcanic eruptions are being hurried along by higher world temps and what other disasters are in store. I think Russian and US companies want to melt enough to open the northern passage by water and to access any oil, nat gas and minerals under the glaciers.
          Hopefully technology is aiming at the right problems, even if a lot of Americans are playing ostrich.
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    Oct 15 2013: hierarchy is inevitable... we each have a role to fulfill to improve our living conditions....
    in the polytrickel sense it a case of divide and rule where there is no hierarchy but more a battle for hierarchy where the leader is actually a follower
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      Oct 15 2013: Hi Carlo
      Yes, we all have a role to fulfil to improve our living conditions, however I would ask, do you really need someone else to tell you how to do that?
      Yes we live in a world where there is considerable inequality and the gaps are getting wider between the top and the bottom in our hierarchical systems ... Yes the laws of divide to rule are prevalent in many nations in our world... Yet I would ask why do we need perpetual leaders? I know no one person can do everything, and that the buck must stop with someone, however when so many of our so-called leaders are seemingly flawed and self-serving, concerned only with themselves, and giving no regard or thought to those over whom they rule, do we really need them?
      Surely a more open source egalitarian network of cooperative, collaborative, contributors would be better way of achieving a better world ???
      Just a some thoughts
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        Oct 16 2013: Yes, you do need someone to tell you what to do... a child needs their parent to tell them what to do, to guide them, to protect them, to provide for them... teach them right from wrong, to get them to tow the line so the family can function at it's best

        we were not born all knowing, capable of fending for ourselves.
        political and social hierarchy is chosen from the top down
        natural hierarchy is chosen from the bottom up

        even in your network of cooperative, collaborative, contributors there will be a hierarchy... eventually you will have rules of engagement how to barter/trade/share

        if you don't have a pecking order, life will be chaotic...
        i would cite the caste system in india - this does not work for the rest of the world but it works for india

        every student needs a master
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          Oct 19 2013: every student needs a master....BUT should stay away from a masters influence.
  • Da Way

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    Oct 15 2013: I think you are right only in the way that it is 'part of' human nature. That's undeniable. How much of human nature is debatable. Some are natural leaders and others are natural followers and most are somewhere in between.

    Personally I prefer the consultancy model, where I hire various specialists in my life to consult regarding my health, finance, relations, etc. and I would 'follow' their advice in their respective fields, but i would never like an 'overall' leader in my life. I don't like being someone's boss and I don't like someone else being my boss. So I guess hierarchy would only be a small part of my nature.
    • Oct 29 2013: I like what you're saying, seeing life as a social circle rather than a pyramid, although it raises many questions.

      First of all, if you separate your life into specific domains (health, finance, relations, etc.) it means you need an ultimate leader to oversee all these aspects of your life and make sure they are all balanced and match your level of energy, right ? For example, (very basic but quite effective, I think and hope) if you pay too much for health care, you won't have any money left for food.

      So I'm guessing this ultimate leader would be yourself, which keeps making sense.

      However, when it comes to overseeing all aspects of social life (building roads, organizing sporting events, separating residential districts from commercial districts, finance), especially in a big city, there needs to be some sort of all-knowing leader, or even organization that structures it all. That is what a government is for, right ?

      So would it mean that hierarchy isn't part of your day-to-day life, but acts as some sort of invisible, inescapable force from a much higher perspective ?

      I still have many more questions, but I would be interested in hearing your point of view first.
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    Oct 15 2013: yep, but we need to get rid of that
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    Oct 15 2013: if we look to the kid and we can confirm that he is in need to be lead ,from it we can say we're in need to a leader if we take this leader like a perfect leader the question is here :can we have a perfect leader but his perfection depends what ?