Are We as Social as Socrates Said?

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that we humans are a species that have developed the ability to individually specialize within the context of being very social. No other species has that ability. We alone choose our individual specialty then exercise it at our discretion. Giving us an immeasurable ability to adapt. In doing so we have virtually tamed nature.

Other species has some specialization. Ants for one. They have a queen and nurse ants, drones, marshal and workers. Ants have a strict social hierarchy. In these superficial qualities they appear to mimic our specialization albeit on a smaller scale. But when you look further into it the correlation breaks down.

Ants are born and are identified by their epigenetic settings. Settings that are placed in them when they are in the larval or pupae stage. Ants have no free will because they are programmed from birth. They are more like a little automaton or a cog than an individual. Scientists have studied ants for thousands of years and not one scientist has reported a single incidence of an ant acting as an individual.

And so ants have little ability to adapt to changing situations. They can move into new environments after they adapt genetically. But our ability to adapt within the context of an individual’s lifetime is extraordinarily quick. That is one of the advantageous of our individual specialization within the context of our sociality. We can take advantage of new and opening environments or situations more quickly than any other animal or plant. That we have actually left our home planet and landed individuals on our Moon is an ideal example of our ability to adapt.

When we are allowed to freely choose what we do… we are more efficient at it. When we are forced into a course of action that we feel is disadvantageous to us, we resent it, and work at some diminished capacity. People freely choose to do what they are good at. We all like to do things we are good at. When we like doing a thing we quickly improve our ability and we are far more efficient at the thing then someone who is resentful.

Look at our children. Children individualize fast. One child likes trucks another child might like guns. Children like, the toys they like, regardless of their parent’s wishes sometimes. These are the first inklings of a person’s individuality. Individuality that allows us to specialize to our mutual benefit.

That is why Socrates said we are the most social animal on the planet. We freely associate, we depend on one another and [the larger the society the greater the aggregate benefit do to the greater specialization}. Take a City State like Socrates home. In the City State there were basket weavers, shoe makers, cart makers, carpenters, house builders, tailors etc… The ability of the City State to make the goods it needed was limited by the population, proximity to resources, climate, etc… The City State needed to trade for goods it could not produce within it’s territory. This trade was and is the manifestation of the fact that the greater the number of people specializing the better of everyone will be. (Other City States had different specialties).

This truth is also born by the fact that the more people that are able to specialize the greater the aggregate benefit. Societies that underserve their populations have huge numbers of poor. The reason a person is poor is that their ability to specialize has been taken away or reduced.

Someone’s ability to specialize can be taken away many ways. No access to education, some form of ism, a societal myth that they cannot get ahead, etc. Alternatively someone can give up their ability to specialize by favoring leisure to productive labor. An example would be an addiction… to whatever.

By this definition, a society that has a lot of poor people, has some block to the people’s ability to self specialize. Using this metric poverty is simply the manifestation of a societies keeping people from reaching their potential. The greater the restriction the greater the societal poverty.

So, If we seek to eliminate poverty we must first seek to eliminate impediments to people’s reaching their potentials. Subsidizing poverty only incentivises and perpetuates it. But there again poverty is a means to power for the Elite… It is not in the Elite’s interest for us to know that our real strength lies in our ability to individually specialize within the context of being very social. They are empowered by poverty.

But it’s poverty that is the wage of forswearing our fellow man.

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