Methods of Freedom: Interaction Without Hierarchy

Civilization means hierarchy. They feed off each other, and never is one found without the other. A concentration of surplus, which is a requirement of civilization, always leads directly to hierarchy. And, hierarchy can only be sustained by a denial of privileges to a lower class, otherwise, why would they obey? This denial is only possible through civilization. Indeed, some people have gone so far as to refer to them as being nearly synonymous.

This ultimately means that civilization can be effectively undermined by replacing hierarchy. Without it, civilization cannot maintain itself. So the question now becomes: what earthly good does that do us?

Replacing hierarchy on a grand scale is beyond our abilities. Also, any violent or non-violent revolution directed against hierarchy would only serve hierarchy by acknowledging their power. After all, if they are the ones you are trying to get that power from, it means they have the power.

However, if you merely do not propagate hierarchy in your own life, then you have, at least partially, freed yourself from that hierarchy. All of this is accomplished by merely denying it. There is no "fighting" of hierarchy that can be effective. But if you simply refuse to acknowledge its power it becomes powerless.

What is the alternative to hierarchy? Egalitarianism. How is this accomplished? With great difficulty if you were not born to it.

The first step is to watch your use of language. Any use of language that puts one person above another without justification of superior ability in that instance should be eliminated. So, saying that Bob is better shot is fine. Telling blonde jokes is not. I know it is hard, but nobody said it was going to be easy. Take it as an opportunity to learn new, funny jokes.

Next, you have to stop leaving people out of the equation. Essentially this means that oligarchies, dictatorships, and even democracy can no longer be your primary means of decision making. The alternative is consensus. Formal Consensus, is not necessary. But some form would be appreciable. Formal Consensus does not mean that everyone has to agree. It means that everyone has to agree that the current plan is workable and best that is available. This is achieved by taking a possible solution and adjusting it to meet any and all concerns presented. The solution once it goes through this process should be acceptable to everyone, even if not universally adored. This is not the same thing as compromise. In compromise, no one gets what they want. In consensus, everyone gets what they want.

And then you have to start calling people on this. This one is hard. But this kind of thing has to be done in groups. When someone slips up, you need to remind them, kindly, that they were behaving civilized, and that such behavior is inappropriate.

Beyond that, it is more little things. By not behaving civilized, people around us will begin to treat us in that way. Luckily, behaving in an uncivilized way amounts to flawless manors by civilization's reckoning.

-Benjamin Shender

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1 Comment

  1. April 13, 2006 at 3:23 am

    […] Methods of Freedom: Interaction Without Hierarchy […]


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