There are many theories and stories on how we reached Civilization.
Many get very close and many don’t. I have been trying to get to the core of the process that leads to civilization.
In this article, we will discuss the conditions required for civilization to get established from the first principles. well, let’s try.
Chapter 1: The Individual
In nature, an individual is a sovereign he is like a country onto himself, and the rules of nature are like a constitution. The world we see around is built on very crude rules of nature.
Men have been trying to improve upon the crude rules of nature and have been able to reach liberal values on the foundation of those crude rules. When I say crude I mean crude from a human’s perspective.
In the jungle among the individuals of the same species, there is competition and between species, we find collaboration as well.
An individual built with rules of nature has to follow them, and knowing those rules and their understanding leads to success in survival.
An individual needs food, shelter, and clothing. He has few ways of attaining these things and what are those ways?
Ways of attaining something
He can work for the thing he wants, he can take it by force from someone else or he can trade with someone else. In rare cases based upon bonds and gained respect from others, he can get those things out of love.
the whole world can’t run on sharing things out of love thus we are back to work, force, and trade.
Decision making Calculation based upon metabolic cost
Humans have been driving themselves towards more efficient processes and systems. As efficient use of limited resources creates abundance as it allows for more production with the same raw material.
By choosing to go with the least costly metabolic process the individual is creating abundance for oneself. As low metabolic cost means low cost of attaining the same or more of something.
How an individual make a decision?
Trade, if the Cost of forcefully attaining is more than benefit from it. Forcefully attain, if the cost of trading is high than the benefit from it.
I am putting it in a crude way but this behavior may change if individuals take long-term into account.
One may not force others in the present if he/she knows that in the future the other can reply with the same.
he can attack the other person to take his things but not if the other person is strong.
this may look like a very crude way of looking at things.
but this is what happens when individuals are dealing with each other, not groups.
In the jungle system, the skill, and power of the individual is the deciding factor for survival. Especially in mammals.
Trade happen between equals
If you want to reduce the conflict between the groups and people and increase trade between them then you have to make them equal.
No, I am not saying if one is a billionaire make other billionaires so that they can trade.
they have to be equal in their power of saying no if they don’t want to trade with each other. Else it means one is forcing the other and thus can’t be called a voluntary trade.
This equality sets the equilibrium which stops attaining by force as it brings no fruitful results. In our current society, we have tried to bring this equality with the concepts like rights to property and used laws and police force as punishing systems to keep the incentive of everyone to not use force to obtain things.
However we can debate how efficient or corrupt this system is some other time, but for now, society has progressed using this arbitrary but effective method. In the future blockchain and other technology may help reduce inefficiencies in the current system.
we will also see how society and groups try to make people equal to increase trade. We will also look in the group optimization section and learn how this same desire for equality can go to the extreme and create the very problem it was trying to solve.
What about survival of friendliest?
This theory says species that contribute and become an essential part of the ecosystem survive. Yes, it is true, but it is about friendliness among different species, not within that species.
Within species, there is competition among individuals to gain resources. Now moving on.
When the cost of force and conflict is high only then trade seems like a rational option. Since it is satisfying the condition that the cost of attaining is less than the benefit. if the trade is costly then why bother going with it.
Note: We will later see, how this metabolic cost of being in conflict will get replaced with a conflict of another sort. We will also see as the structure for individual survival changes so does it leads to changes in time preference of an individual when dealing with other individuals.
Why don’t we see people stealing in day to day life
We don’t see people stealing all the time even if they could because they want to avoid an increase in their social cost.
We will learn about that in Chapter 3 Conflict between groups and optimization.
Now we have understood how many ways an individual can attain things and when trading or brute force are chosen.
further, we got a glimpse that these incentives change as an individual enters a group, and how its structure changes his/her time preference when dealing with other individuals especially for members of his own group.
Chapter 2: Formation of the groups and it’s features
The formation of a group starts with a common value, feature, or cause.
These causes can range from taking revenge to attain some common goal by sharing skills.
Other advantages of forming a group are specialization and distribution of labor. The very structure of the group creates abundance by reducing metabolic cost in comparison to the benefits gained.
As you can see a group will be able to take down individuals but may not take down other groups.
Group formation is not easy to get started but once started it last for years and centuries.
Let’s again look at the cost and benefits of being in a group and what role uncertainty plays.
Impact of uncertainty on the human brain
Did you know: if you change your sleeping place, half your brain remains awake because of unfamiliarity with the new location.
From this, we can also deduce that uncertainty can increase the metabolic cost of the brain.
When two individuals don’t know each other and don’t know what values the other holds. In such cases, they will be suspicious of each other.
Among suspicious people, the cost of trade gets high.
Let’s run a scenario to understand how group formation takes place. How different aspects like familiarity, unfamiliarity, and different costs play their role within and outside the group.
Now let’s say two individuals who are strangers to each other see each other in a jungle area.
Let’s assume they have the same physical caliber. In this case, conflict cost gets high for both. Both don’t attack each other as they understand that the other person is like him. Which means both are from the same species.
Now trade is possible and let’s say the scenario went ok, they preferred to trade with each other rather than fight.
They communicate and remember each other. Moreover decided to work together sharing skills and knowledge with each other. this leads to a bond.
now it is a group of two. As they move to other places they meet a third person.
they will be as suspicious of him as they were of each other, again they don’t know about the stranger. The two could be taken down by this third strong person but instead, let’s assume the “strong guy” got killed by the two.
As time passes they are building a mental model of different types of people they are meeting.
Keeping track of signs and patterns of people, who are likely to attack them and those who will be friendly.
These signs could range from micro expressions to weapons, clothing, talking style, etc. This is where sterotypes comes in, these sterotypes play essential role in surivial.
Here is an example from a video of how it actually goes. Imagine tribes as people who are familiar with each other and strangers as strangers.
Group formation to reduce uncertanity
The trade you see in the market between strangers is dependent upon common values. Take away those and even the market stops to function.
We assume that the market works on its own, but that is not the case. Markets run on values and are regulated by the participants.
For example, ordering online requires no familiarity between the two people.
There are cases in which many frauds happened online. To reduce such frauds you will see groups of sellers and consumers come together to form rules to bound each other and reduce frauds.
These rules and frameworks are based on their values. violation of such rules and frameworks attracts punishment.
The punishment can be intra group or inter group.
Knowing that the group from which you belong can give punishment on your behalf can give reassurance to people that if something unfair happens to them the group will make sure they get justice.
This not only extends to other groups but within the group. In a group, people get the assurance of getting treated based upon the common values they hold.
Once an individual feels asure about saftey and getting justice their metobolic cost reduce drastically and the mind gets free to think and work upon other things rather than just always thinking about survival.
Group make its members EQUAL
When people form groups then common values and features reduce conflicts and fights. Trade among them allows them to see how valuable other individuals are, as they have different kinds of skills which can benefit you.
Gaining such individuals as friends rather than as enemies, looks beneficial.
A group allows a member to be a value provider without being physically strong. Individuals who are members of the group can explore other things until group values are not challenged.
An individual gets rights and protections within the group, which were nowhere to be found in the jungle system. kill or get killed is the norm in the jungle.
So even if an individual doesn’t have equal physical strength he is still valued equally because his talents and skills are as important to the group’s survival as physical strength is.
In this sense group formed based upon common values brings equality to its members and thus increases trade within the group. If conflicts increase then the group will break and everyone’s metabolic cost will again rise and survival will become hard. The benefit of the division of labour will go away as well.
And as we have learned that trade reduces metabolic cost and increases abundance as efficiencies are gained. This abundance further increases the population of the group. Since there are more resources raising and having children becomes easy.
Group Structure Limits Individuals
Just like there are benefits of being in a group, there are problems as well. Let’s learn what are the limitations to a group structure.
Reduced rate of change
As group structure helps reduce uncertainty it also reduces the rate of change. Change that especially challenges group values. This is where you find people on the right-wing of politics. They don’t want too much change as fast change may replace the values the group was founded upon and has provided them with a sense of belonging.
If the very nature and value of the group change then individuals may find it alien to live within that group structure.
(let’s take an extreme example to understand, suppose tomorrow whole country decide that all males will walk naked.)
The change in value is so drastic that it is hard to comprehend it as reality. This level of shock is what conservative or religious people or even scientist feel when something new challenges their beliefs.
Fast change also brings the same level of anxiety and metabolic cost to the whole group as it brought to individual. As current values shows that they are working and one see the benefits and chaning may ruin it, thus uncertainity and thus hinderance is acceptance.
Left-Wing politics on other hand want to change as they see and find old systems as inefficient, rigid, and limiting freedom.
Both extreme are bad, human development require change but if everything is changing super fast then it is hard for structure to remain. So both stability and change compliment each other if they work together.
You may ask how they complement, well the more stability you can the more resources and efficiencies you get which allow you to allocate resources to innovation which allows for change to happen. This new change will bring more stability than more change. “I do understand that not every change is good.” but generally this is the cycle that keeps repeating.
There was a time when people believed that the sun orbits the earth which is contrary to reality. This very fact took a long time to be accepted by the masses.
In the same manner, a group gains protection but reduces its agility to change with time. Thus a group should optimize for rate of change.
Limiting Individual’s freedom
For an Individual group’s values can be immensely painful with changing times, values can also stop members from exploring their full potential.
The values of the group have been doing this for a long time. No voting rights to females, no participation in the free market, and unable to accept same-sex couples. These are are some examples where the values of a group can be very limiting to an individual.
The migration of people has many causes but looking for a group to explore one’s potential is a major one. This is the reason why people from developing countries migrate to developed nations. The hope is that they will get a better group with better values where they will be able to lead a better life.
It is seen that market economies allow maximum freedom to such people because the very values that are essential for the free market are liberating for individuals.
We will take a look at different ways of organizing groups later, from communism to capitalism. Now moving on.
It is not easy to leave one’s group behind and move on because that is like going back to uncertainty.
values and a group’s system can get so corrupt that taking chance on the uncertainty of the unknown seems like a rational option.
From this, we can deduce that Individuals leave a group when the costs of being in that same group are higher than any benefits of being in it or benefits of joining other groups.
Group Enforce more Groupism
Imagine if your chess pawn in the middle of the game changes its values and says that killing an enemy pawn is against its value?
Imagine a pawn of the opposite team. he will be like what the hell dude, get back to your team.
Such can be the result of a group ideology, sometimes your group identity becomes yours.
The individuality of the pawn is reduced and what if two pawns run away?
This has been the case as many groups have killed their group members for bonding with members of other groups. As it totally destroys the value structure of the group and its identity.
This uncertainty can cause immense anxiety with in-group members. Such cases have been seen between groups with high enmity.
Such a situation can cause group members to think and wonder “if two members can unite then why can’t other members try and find common values with members of other groups”.
Under uncertainty, the metabolic cost for the brain rises thus making it tired. This constant struggle makes an individual to choose a group closest to his value and reduce this metabolic cost.
You may have experienced it if you have faced the choice between two group in your school or college life.
The opposite has also been seen. Where Groups with similar values have been found to form bonds and even encourage bonds between their members.
Groups force everyone to be in group
This is the reason you don’t see masses act as independent thinkers. Not only the pressure is from the group closest to you to accept their other set of values, but the pressure is also from opposite groups who are far away from your values.
Groups far away from your value also want you to join other groups to which you are closest, as it gets easy for them to categorize you.
Imagine a world where you keep track of everyone’s values on every topic. This won’t be possible because again this requirement of keeping track is a metabolic cost.
The efficient way to reduce this cost is to reduce the information about others and that is what exactly groups help in. Groups convey common features and core values that the member of a group holds. This allows others to judge, understand, and imagine what the other group and its member may be like.
If all of a sudden I make a terrorist stand in front of you and ask you to befriend him you will find it hard because you may think that terrorists hold very rigid values and may not fit with yours.
While in reality, it could be that the person is intelligent and got obducted to work for the terrorist group. Now If this new info is released to you then you might change your view.
I think you can see how when you only knew from which group he belonged you thought of him in a different way and when more new info is provided you can see your behavior change.
Old group habits die hard
In cases where one group with different values dominates or rules the other group, it changes its value but as the dominating group goes away the values of the group being dominated return back to its old values maybe not fully but to a great extent.
Thinking that a group’s thinking can be changed with force is a naive view. There is no certainty of changing perspective without changing values.
Values don’t change with force they change with the understanding that comes with time and learning.
Then what happens when two groups of opposite belief systems meet each other and are not ready to change their values?
In such cases, these two groups will try to gain an advantage over the other or at least try to get strong enough to make sure that the other group doesn’t have an advantage over it.
How that will be done? well for that we have to move to the next section.
Chapter 3 Conflict between groups and optimization
Until now we have understood how individuals attain things, and why and how they form groups. Now we will see how a group optimizes itself to deal with its members and other groups.
Expansion of Group
with time passing, individuals meet individuals and with common values, they form groups else they fight. Being friendly and forming bonds increases their group size.
They are also getting efficient at protecting each other and avoiding other harmful groups. Their togetherness along with common values, and high trade among themselves leads to efficient use of resources.
This can last only a short time before some situation creates a conflict and a group needs conflict resolution else it will break down.
Conflict resolution within the group
As the group increase in size, some arguments, conflict, or fight are bound to happen.
Such conflict and fights can be dangerous for a group because as a result, they lose speed and reduce their chances of surviving against other groups.
It is essential that a group set rules for solving issues within their group. Which further reduces trading cost and improve bonds.
This group is a running, moving country with rules stored in their head.
Formation of Hierarchy and Political Structure
Since this unit is a group and is now acting as a unit, it is natural for this group to form a hierarchy within the group.
what is hierarchy? it is position based on the competition in particular field.
someone is good at finding paths, someone is good at finding eatable fruits, someone is strong, and someone knows how to kill with a spear.
Survival of Fittest Group
Now it is not survival of the fittest individual, but the survival of the fittest group.
whenever the group will encounter different situations, it will keep on improving and getting efficient, and the most efficient group will dominate the other.
NOTE: Until now the group is working on a very simple system, which is bonding with familiar and competition with unfamiliar. forming bias towards other groups, which gets stronger or weaker with interactions.
one group has never been forced to live according to the values of other groups.
Religion has not entered the group yet.
as the groups will continue to evolve they will keep on specializing, and it is inevitable that a political structure will form, if they start agriculture and settle, as they will specialize in storing food, collecting food, raising animals.
Thus the group with a highly efficient structure will win.
Different role as consequence of optimization
The role of an army general, home security, agricultural officer, forest officer. All these roles are the result of a group’s optimization to handle different aspects of life.
As group compete with each other they start to optimize and this optimization can start the process of specialization.
It is the very process that also starts the destruction of groups. As the number of roles increases the communication also starts to break down.
This very reason communism doesn’t work as it lacks an efficient method to allocate resources thus becomes inefficient and as a result, causes death to its members because of starvation.
No guarantee can be given that capitalism or a free-market system will also work for the betterment of society and as individuals can also turn it into crony capitalism.
In both cases of communism and crony capitalism, it is seen that the government gets powerful enough that it starts to interfere in the very values which enabled the group’s success.
The government becomes a sub-group to run the group and gets de attached from its whole and starts to eat the group from within. It can also be seen as a cell mutation into a cancerous cell.
Thus it is important that government structure and their powers are kept in check.
Government and their Governing Style
Let’s see how different governing style comes into existence.
Anarchy: Rule of none
In this system, no one is in control, and whom so ever has the advantage rules or suppresses the other. There are no values and even if there are they can change as per the situation.
Under such a system formation of a group is impossible as that would mean there is a structure thus a hierarchy. Which means it is not anarchy.
Monarchy: rules of one
Most of the time who will lead the group is decided on the basis of strong physicality.
The person is chosen by the strong physical attribute and this person gets preference in choosing a partner, other goods and services produced by the group, etc.
From this leadership comes Monarchy. Children of monarchs will get high preference and a good start in terms of resources. Thus putting them ahead in terms of leading their group.
But it is limited, Pure Monarchy can’t expand if a group size increases. because it can also face the same knowledge problem that communism face.
Normally the size is 150 people that a brain can maintain relationships with and it has been seen that normally tribes have a similar size.
There are tribes that separate themselves upon reaching this limit. As their communication and thus efficiency breaks down.
Oligarchy: Rule of few
When the size of the group increases such that the monarchy can’t handle it, then oligarchy takes over, here the rule is done by a few members of the group.
The duty and decision making is divided among these few and the group shows one member as monarch but behind the scene its a group of few members who do the governing.
Democracy: Rule of many
Under Democracy the decision-making power is with people. What 51% choose decides becomes the rule of law. This form also faces the same problem as anarchy as it is bound to break down into smaller groups upon the conflict between minority and majority.
Republic: Rule of law
Under this system majority or few people form the rules of law against which conflict will be resolved and the group will be governed.
This law of the land is also knowns as the constitution. This is similar to a democracy because even here the majority can change laws.
But to prevent that from happening the Rule of law sets rules which can’t be changed by the government who is elected using the very Constitution.
Any other form of government is not recognized if it doesn’t get elected by the rules set by the constitution.
The power is set in such a way that institutions keep each other in check and make sure that the constitution is followed.
This system last as long as its institution and their power last to keep each other in check.
Money, debt and free Markets
The Money, Debt, and free-market haven’t come to groups easily. Just like Monarchy or rule of strongest in the group was the norm until group size made it useless. The same is the case with money, debt, and the free market.
For small community the demand for money never rose and nor for debt and for a long time debt was not considered as something good.
The debt as we know it didn’t exist but a different form existed where social favors or obligations acted as debt. In some society the children were considered to be in debt of their parents has they brought them to life.
Paying back debt meant as something bad as that meant breaking relationship.
Money and debt were things that were supposed to be used with strangers not within groups. It is just like family not using debt and money among themselves to allocate resources and work.
But when it came to trading with other groups there was some barter but few items always got more preferred than the other and such items acted as money.
Free Market can’t function without values
For free market system to work you need value system else it can’t function. The first condition for market to function is the concept of private property.
Which you can clearly understand will sound stupid to small communes which shared resources.
It was the increase in group size and trading between groups that pushed people towards the idea of private property. Religious value has played a very important role when policing and judiciary system was not as prevalent.
Ideas like God punish those who cheat his fellow men can increase the efficiency of the free market.
If people really believe at their core that they will get punished for their bad acts then you can expect them to do the right thing even in the absence of political power or force.
This acted as one of the best mechanism, because even if you did something wrong thinking that there is no GOD, but then after a while something bad happened, then your brain will auto suggest you that all this bad is happening because you did bad.
Religious seems like irrational today, but it was the besy mechanism to get order and morality when policing and law and order where hard to deliver.
You will always find that the basic values tought in religion are always those values which will lead to calm, peaceful society. Such religious value has been successful in reducing crimes at those times.
But again religion worked best with in the group but between two groups this religion has been the cause of wars.
what is social cost?
A group forms its identity, they eat similar things, wear similar things, and share the same things, thus they look the same and can differentiate themselves from others and others can also differentiate them.
In a group with common values, the cost of forcefully attaining things goes high. Doing any forceful act may get you out of the group.
Rather than conflict cost, Social cost takes over within the group.
The social cost is a negative consequence of your activities on your relationship with others. Leading to you getting less cared for, favored, liked among your peers or subgroup.
Suppose you acted badly within your friend circle and the situation is so bad that they don’t want to talk to you anymore.
This is what the Social cost of your action is and it can lead to you not getting any favor from your subgroup or group at large.
Reducing social costs helps you also reduce Trade costs, this is one of the reasons you see people doing networking.
They are trying to gain new social bonds so that their social cost gets reduced with other individuals or subgroups. Which can lead to lowering trade costs as well.
Now coming back to the question from previous section.
Why don’t we see people stealing within the group?
Now we know the answer is Social Cost and loss of opportunity and benefits.
The cost of trade reduces drastically with familiarity.
Always remember this familiarity is in comparison to the familiarity with others.
You are more familiar with a person from your culture than a person from another culture.
Chapter 4 friendliness and bonds between the groups.
The groups now specialized and efficient, are capable of protecting itself and also of trade, now the same model which was true for the individual is true for the group.
when two groups meet they either trade, steal, or work on their own. now even groups can form bonds with other groups.
group A B C, A, and C are enemies, but B is friendly with both and both are friendly with B, since that is so, even without friendship, with the help of B A and C can trade.
See until now no group has compromised on their values, they have bias and hatred among themselves, and yet they are trading and co-existing.
Note: the power of protection is allowing this stable structure, the cost of getting in war is high and thus trade route is chosen by the groups. So groups who hate each other end up trading because there is a middle group that has values acceptable to both groups.
Groups of groups
There can be groups of groups which has a middle group to allow these two major groups to trade. Many trade routes have acted like so between major group federations.
Chapter 5 Groups to Civilization
As there was the friendship between individuals so is between groups and groups with the most common value-form cities, where they live by the values they hold and trade with other cities that are friendly.
What happens when groups change their value with time, that can happen in that case the group will leave and can join hands with other groups, in promise to share secrets of the group they are leaving.
Thus system ensures incentive that both try really hard to make things work out between them and they don’t have to set apart as it will cost them very highly.
This system will then expand to states, and nations.
Now it doesn’t matter if you call group ((A) anything) or ((C) enemy of it), they are living with their bias and still surviving,
when you said that no we want person from group A to serve in group C.
you are saying a person with the value of A group goes and manages and serves group C which has a different value from A.
This is unsustainable, and it is forceful and not voluntary system.
to that, I said it is stupid to do that, it is better to allow group A to manage itself and C to manage itself and trade though B.
if with time they can form bonds with each other then it’s good they can leave hate aside and trade and prosper, but if that is not the case well they can still exist.
I hope now you can see how the world is the way it is and how it has the structure it has.