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Partner, Milsal + McCaull

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Are flatter/ more egalitarian societies possible? What beliefs, processes & systems would enable them? What are the risks?

Whether its political (eg, a dictator diverting foreign aid while the people live in poverty, growing income gaps between the rich and poor in the US, or (see last month's Atlantic cover) the emergence of a global "ruling elite" and everyone else.) or in the structure of work (eg, one to many governance, top down governance)- human societies as they scale up truly seem to divide the spoils incredibly unevenly. There must be some embedded belief systems about our fellow humans that create this. For example, we might believe that there is a limited pie of good. We might believe that poverty and subjugation is karma or choice. We might believe that we are in competition with others in our pack. What kinds of beliefs, governance structures, and incentives might help create a more egalitarian and respectful world?

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  • Mar 4 2011: @tobias > Always something to be learned at the edge case.... so, the man who lives in isolation (the ultimate libertarian) is sort of living without a superior or an inferior, in isolation he is a pretty flat organization. He wouldn't be a citizen of any place, so no tax would be imposed for the common good. On the other hand, in his ignorance of climate change and lack of trade relationships, let's say there are theoretical salinity shifts caused by other nations and people not related to him or his actions- and these cause all of his machines to fail. So the lack of attention to the collective comes back around and bites him in the butt, and his underwater lair and in fact, he himself, dies. This question about the balance between the individual and the collective is somewhat intertwined with the question of a society that has less hierarchy.

    I would also explore this assumption that it's hard work by the individual that differentiates reward, not crafty working of the systems for one's own advantage- whether circumstances of birth or connectedness, most of these hierarchy systems seem to self perpetuate, and have little to do with the individual. I need data on this, because the mythos is that bootstrapping your own self is the way MOST people win, but I have this sense that while there are many stories about individuals pulling themselves from nothing to something, but that the bulk of the prosperous/ ruling class are transgenerational. What do you think?

    @marek> Thank you. That is a pretty good cognitive answer- it seems earlier than school, though.

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