THE SYSTEM

chapter three

HOW IT HAPPPENED

© Andy Turnbull, 2005

glossary

Any starting point for the development of The System has to be arbitrary, because human systems go back a long time. Our earliest 'human' ancestors evolved only a million or so years ago but, like other life-forms, our ancestral line dates back to much simpler animals.

The turning point in the development of the human system - as distinct from humanity itself -- may have been the development of the neolithic axe.

Through the first million years or so of human tool-using men made and used the type of tools we call 'paleolithic,' which were simply chipped rocks. Then came the 'mesolithic' or 'microlithic' era and for about 20,000 years our ancestors used tools with razor sharp edges, made by flaking obsidian and other stones, often mounted in bone or wooden handles. They were so sharp that some modern surgical scalpels are made the same way, of the same material, but they are not strong enough for heavy work.[1]

Humans of the mesolithic era also developed new hunting techniques with bows and arrows, with nets and probably with traps. They learned to fish with nets and hooks and to cook foods like grain to make them edible.

For most people, this must have been a good time to live. We can gain some idea of what life in the mesolithic was like by studying the few groups of hunters and gatherers that survive to this day. Even now, some of them have a life style that most of us could envy.

In Victorian times many 'civilized' people thought that the lives of 'savages' were "nasty, poor, brutish and short," but most scholars of the era were armchair philosophers who never met a 'savage.' Modern anthropologists who have lived with and studied hunters and gatherers at first hand tell a very different story.[2]

Antropologist Marshall Sahlins cites a study of two groups of Aboriginals in northern Australia in 1948. The natives 'worked' from three to about five hours a day to collect all the food they could eat but they did not work continuously -- they would stop for a rest, or for diversion, whenever they felt like it. One of the native groups maintained a full time craftsman who made tools and weapons, but did no hunting or gathering himself.[3]

In the 1960's anthropologist Richard Lee, now a professor at the University of Toronto, found that among the !Kung San of the Kalahari desert -- one of the most barren and forbidding areas on Earth -- one man could hunt and gather enough food to support five. He found that producing adults 'worked' an average of two and a half six-hour days a week.

Lee wrote that "a woman gathers in one day enough food to feed her family for three days and spends the rest of her time resting in camp, doing embroidery, visiting other camps or entertaining people from other camps. In a day spent at home kitchen routines such as cooking, nut cracking, collecting firewood and fetching water occupy one to three hours of her time."

Men work longer hours than women but their schedule is uneven. It is not unusual for a man to hunt for a week and then not hunt for two or three weeks.[4]

In answer to a question in a symposium at the University of Chicago Lee said his study did not represent 'normal' conditions for the !Kung because it was undertaken in the third year of a disastrous drought. While the !Kung lived in comfort about 180,000 farmers of the Herero and Tswana tribes in the surrounding area had to depend on the United Nations World Food Program for emergency relief. Some Herero and Tswana women joined the !Kung women in the search for wild foods but, despite the increased competition, the drought that was a disaster for the farmers caused no significant hardship to the hunters and gatherers.[5]

Anthropologist Melvin Konnors describes the life style of the !Kung bushmen as ...

..."a sort of human experience with a proven viability vastly more ancient than our own. Far from solitary, it is above all things mutual. Far from poor, it is amply supplied and amply leisured; it has even been called 'the original affluent society.' Far from nasty, it is based on human decency, respect for others, sharing, giving. Far from brutish, it is courageous, egalitarian, good-humored, philosophical -- in a word, civilized -- with an esthetic so fine its very music touches the gods. Although many die in early childhood, those who do not may live to a ripe old age, and this is an old age not consigned to a ghetto or to a "home" that is not a home; rather, it is one embedded in that same intimate social world, surrounded by grandchildren full of delight, by grown, powerful children full of courtesy."[6]

Many hunters and gatherers are 'nomadic,' moving from one campsite to another as the seasons change. Most 'civilized' people have only one or two homes but kings, emperors and the very rich may also be nomadic, with homes in several cities and a country estate, a tropical retreat, a summer home and perhaps a hunting and/or ski lodge. In this and other ways the life of a hunter-gatherer has more in common with the lives of modern kings and billionaires than with the life of the average "civilized" man.

Ten thousand years ago the life of hunters and gatherers must have been even better than we see today because in ancient times they could live on the most fertile land. Now, people who are organized by systems hold the best land and the idyllic lifestyle of hunting and gathering survives only among small groups of people in the densest jungles and the bleakest deserts, on the inhospitable barren lands of the north and even on the ice of polar seas. These are places where men who depend on systems can not survive and, so far, no system has bothered to take the last scraps of the world from people who live as our ancestors did.[7]

The change to farming and the development of The System may or may not have been triggered by the development of the neolithic axe but, either way, it's a good place to start. Archaeologists believe this occurred about 8,000 BC in the Middle East and earlier or later in other areas, when men learned to grind and polish stone axes to a fine finish. They used different types of stone -- especially jadeite and obsidian, which are tougher than flint -- and the polished axes took and kept a good edge. Archaeologists call these polished-stone tools and the people who made them, 'Neolithic' or 'new stone age.'

In some ways neolithic axes were better than modern steel axes. {Encyclopedia Britannica} says that in one experiment Danish scientists took some 4,000-year-old polished-stone axes from a museum and fitted them with new handles.

With a bit of practice they could fell an oak tree more than a foot in diameter in an hour or a two-foot pine in two hours. Three men cleared 600 square yards of silver birch forest -- enough for a small subsistence farm -- in four hours. The axes had not been sharpened for 4,000 years but they were still in good shape after cutting down more than 100 trees.[8]

With neolithic axes men could fell trees to make log houses or to cut roof-beams for brick houses. The new tools also made it practical to build stockades and bridges, to split logs into planks and to build boats. With the development of polished-stone tools men developed building techniques that are still in use today.

THE VILLAGE

The neolithic axe may have been invented by a full-time artisan, like the one supported by one of the Aboriginal groups in the 1948 Australian study, and that artisan may have lived in a village.

There are several scenarios for the development of the village and it is quite possible that all of them have occurred at least once. Philosopher/author Jane Jacobs suggests that the first village was settled by artisans.[9]

Because many hunters and gatherers spend some time living away from the rest of their band anyway it would be no surprise if a full-time artisan chose to camp for a while near a source of raw materials. A basket-maker or arrow-maker might camp near a stand of willow or reeds, a potter might camp by a deposit of clay and a tool-maker might camp near an outcropping of obsidian, flint, or other useful stone.

All three would choose to camp at a natural crossroads -- such as a good place to cross a river -- if possible. If one crossroads campsite offered access to several types of materials -- such as clay, reeds, willow and perhaps obsidian -- it might attract several artisans.

They would bring their wives, husbands and children with them and they would probably make a temporary camp at first. After a week or so they would return to their bands but if the crossroads site offered both good materials and a chance to trade they would return time and again and, eventually, the camp would develop into a craft village.

Because rivers form natural boundaries it would be no surprise if deposits of clay and willow thickets occurred at or near the boundary between two bands' territories. At first the members of two different bands might stick to their own side of the river but, if the bands are friendly, they would visit back and forth. In time they might see themselves as residents of the village and, while still members of a band, they would see the village as an entity in its own right; related to both bands but distinct from them.

In the early stages of the development of the village hunters and gatherers might deal only with craftsmen who are members of their own bands but, as the concept of the village develops, band membership would become less significant. There would be little conflict in any case because many bands inter-marry and many families could probably claim kinship with two bands.

The village would trade with the surrounding bands for food, hides and perhaps some raw materials and it would also be home to some hunters and gatherers. The husband of a basket weaver might join a hunting party with other village men and the wife of an arrow-maker might gather with other wives.

You might think that a whole village of people hunting and gathering in the same area would pick it clean, but in fact the land around a village would be more productive than land farther away from it.

Even now, villages and camps around the world are surrounded by clumps of fruit trees and berry bushes. They grow because people who eat fruits and berries also eat some of the seeds and if they do not walk away from the village to defecate they do to empty their chamber pots. If they do not eat the seeds they throw them out and their garbage midden becomes an orchard or a berry-patch or both.[10]

Some mesolithic peoples used wild grains to make porridge and beer but they did not have to farm them. Einkorn, the most primitive form of wheat, grows wild in the Middle East and mesolithic people could collect all they would need without farming. Back in the 1960's University of Chicago Prof. Jack Harlan, working near the site of the early Turkish village of Cayonu, used a flint sickle to gather four pounds of Einkorn in an hour.

His take threshed out to two pounds of clean wheat with 24% protein, compared with 14% for most modern wheat. Prof. Harlan estimated that in pre-agricultural times an average family, working for the three weeks of harvest, could probably have collected about a ton of clean wheat.[11]

Jacobs suggests that fields near a village would naturally evolve the most useful grains.[12] She argues that gatherers from around the district would collect edible seeds, beans, nuts and primitive grains to trade, and a trader in a village would store them all in a common granary. Grains and seeds that are not used over the winter would sprout in the spring and the trader would dump them in a field outside the village. This one field would grow a mix of every useful grain that can survive in the area and virtually every cross that is possible will occur and, over time, the ones that produce the most seeds will predominate. The most imporant advantage 'modern' wheat has over primitive einkorn is that each plant of modern wheat produces many seeds. One plant of eincorn produces only one seed.

As more and better grain grows around the village grain-eating animals would move into the area and, even if some are killed, animals that live near a village will eventually lose their fear of man. Some might even live in the village, because people sometimes adopt young animals as pets.

This is very much like farming but the people of a craft village probably did not take the final steps to land ownership and cultivation because they didn't have to, and because grain farming offers questionable benefits to the farmer. In a good year a farmer can produce more food than a hunter or gatherer but he has to work much harder to do it and, at this point, he has no use for the difference.

If a single nuclear family could collect about a ton of wheat for three weeks' work it does not seem likely that anyone would voluntarily invest the months of work it would take to cultivate a crop that might produce five or ten tons of wheat or even more. Better to gather one ton of grain and devote most of your time to hunting and collecting other foods.

The women, at least, would probably prefer other foods because wheat has to be mashed or milled and then mixed with water before it is cooked into porridge or biscuits. Work for a woman who gathers roots and berries is light and pleasant but work for a wheat farmer's wife is hard and possibly painful. Archaeologist Elizabeth Barber says that toe, knee and shoulder bones of many women who lived in the early farming villages of Mesopotamia were deformed by kneeling and pushing as they ground grain with the type of stone grinders found in those villages.[13]

These deformities developed after the village turned to agriculture and I suggest that came later. The craft village did not need full-time farmers because the hunters and gatherers of the mesolithic era were very efficient and, like modern hunters and gatherers, they could easily find enough food for themselves and a dependable surplus to trade with craftsmen in the village.

The layout and the buildings of the craft village probably look very much like a camp but there is one big difference. A camp may be short term or -- like an army camp -- long-term but, either way, it is essentially private and open only to residents and invited guests. It may not be open to newcomers because the inhabitants of a camp form a social group and economic functions are secondary. If a newcomer wants to move into a camp the question is whether he or she will add to the social group and, unless someone in the camp needs a mate and is willing to accept the newcomer, he or she may be rejected.

A village has an economic base and any newcomer who can add to it, whether by establishing a craft industry himself or herself or by working for an established industry, will probably be welcome.

THE AXE TRADE

Whether the original was invented in a village or not, most neolithic axes were probably made in 'factories' like some that were still working in historic times.

One stone-axe factory kept going until about 1830 at Mount William, near Melbourne, Australia. It was in territory controlled by the Wurrunjerri tribe of aborigines and in historic times the factory itself seems to have been controlled by the head of one family.

The last operator was a man named Billi-Billeri, who died in 1846. He apparently sold blanks -- rough-shaped axes, the prehistoric equivalent of unpainted furniture -- which his customers finished by polishing and sharpening. In the final years only he and his sister's son mined the stone and roughed out the axes but in earlier times there must have been more people because axes from Mount William were traded among tribes who lived more than 100 miles away.[14]

That factory was heir to a very long tradition. Nobody knows for sure when or where the first factories developed but archaeologists found traces of organized workshops in middle eastern villages that date back to about 6500 BC.

The neolithic axe was a wonderful tool but it was more than a tool. Because it takes considerable skill and just the right stone to make a good one the neolithic axe probably gave us trade and, by spreading ideas, trade gave us civilization.

In the last years of the stone age top-quality axes were traded over hundreds of miles. English archaeologists discovered this in the late 1940's, after they realized that many of the axes they found at ancient sites were not made of local stone. Eventually they learned that the stone for axes found over most of England came from three sources. One was a mountain in North Wales, another was on Rathlin Island in Ulster and the third was near Great Langdale in the Lake District. Near the quarries, archaeologists find the debris from the making of thousands of axes.

Axes made of jadeite stone from the Swiss Alps were used in Brittany, Germany, Belgium, England and Ireland and axes made of obsidian from one mountain in Turkey were traded around the Mediterranean and most of the Middle East.[15]

And along with the axes, traders carried ideas. We can only speculate about this, of course, but it seems reasonable to assume that there was very little travel in the days before trade. When there is no obvious reason to travel, a stranger might be assumed to be either a poacher or a scout sent to plan a raid. We know that among most primates a male found outside his group's territory is liable to be attacked and we can assume the same might have been true among primitive men.

So in the days before trade we can assume that most bands of humans lived in relative isolation, with few new ideas from the outside and with no way to pass their own ideas to anyone else. If one band develops a new way of making fire, thatching a hut, tanning leather or whatever they might be willing to tell others about it -- but who can they tell?

Hunting and gathering bands may fight with some of their neighbors and party and inter-marry with others but battles, parties and weddings are not good times to discuss ideas.

If people and goods don't travel, ideas don't travel. If bands of people live an average of 20 miles apart and party together three times a year, it will take more than 15 years for a new idea to travel a thousand miles. If three groups of traders cover an average of 400 miles each, the same idea could travel that far in a year.

Traders are allowed to travel because people understand why they travel and because they bring goods that people want. They also bring ideas because when they arrive in a camp or a village they need things to talk about and if they have seen or heard of a new way of making or doing something, that's a logical topic of conversation.

New ideas may also help to sell goods. If someone is reluctant to pay the price of an axe the trader might tell him how such axes can be used to build log houses and to make rafts or whatever.

Even the goods themselves contain ideas. The trader who brings a stone axe also brings the idea that a certain kind of stone makes good axes. In some cases the band that buys the axe may have that kind of stone in their territory but they never tried making an axe of it. The way the head is mounted and even the kind of knots that hold it in place may also be useful information.

In most cases the traders probably carried only axe heads and either told or showed their customers how to choose and add handles. Either way, the information was transferred.

And goods and ideas would travel even where traders could not. We know that on some trade routes some bands claimed the trade for themselves. They did not allow traders to pass through their territory but they did buy all their goods and the band would then send its own traders along the route -- at least as far as the next band that claimed the trade for itself. Either way, the goods travelled and ideas travelled with them.

It may have been among the artisans in the village that the concept of private property became important. A hunter who spends a day sitting in the shade to carve a pretty ornament may be willing to give it away, because he enjoys the work and he can make another one tomorrow. Besides; everybody in the camp is either a relative, a close friend or a welcome guest, and giving is a friendly gesture.

The artisan in the village is in a different position. He may enjoy making things but if he gives them away he will have nothing to eat and, while most of the residents of the village are friends and relatives, some of the people who come to trade are strangers.

Even the sources of raw materials may be 'owned.' Many animals will defend their territory and we have to assume that if a village or some of its residents control a valuable resource, such as a deposit of top-quality obsidian, they may not allow outsiders to mine it.

TRADE AND TREASURE

Neolithic axes and the trade they spawned may have created the concept of wealth. It probably did not exist up to this point because there was no need for it. In a hunting and gathering society most of the goods anyone needs are relatively easy to make and, if someone can not make something himself or herself, someone else can and will on request.

But neolithic axes were special. The best ones were far better than the average local axe and, because it took a combination of special stone and skilled workmanship to make them, they were probably expensive. In some areas they must have been very expensive because the buyer would have to pay the markup of at least one trader who might have risked his life to bring it and perhaps the mark-ups of several traders who handled it along the way.

If the axe is valuable, then anything a trader will accept in exchange for it is also valuable.

Pretty stones and ornaments have no real value of their own. A ruby is just a red pebble but if you can trade it for something that has real value -- like an axe -- then the ruby has real value. It becomes treasure.[16]

As the axe trade developed, the trade in treasure developed with it. Amber from around the Baltic Sea has been found in caves in Crete. Neolithic beads, bracelets and pendants made of the shells of mussels found only in the Black and Aegean Seas are found as far north as Poland. One lot of 20 finished from around the Baltic Sea has been found in caves in Crete. Neolithic beads, bracelets and pendants made of the shells of mussels found only in the Black and Aegean Seas are found as far north as Poland. One lot of 20 finished bracelets found in eastern Bavaria suggests that the shell was probably worked at the source and traded as finished jewelry.[17]

From early biblical times to the early 20th century caravans carried goods and ideas back and forth from China to the middle east and Europe over a network of routes now known as the Silk Road.

This was the classic caravan route and for more than a thousand years it was the mainstream of civilization. Damascus, Baghdad, Tashkent, Samarkand and other great cities of the ancient world were caravan stops on the silk road.

Besides silk the east sent roses, azaleas, chrysanthemums, peonies, camelias, oranges, pears, the crossbow, gunpowder, printing and paper to Europe. In return traders carried grapes, grape wine, alfalfa, figs, pomegranates, cucumbers, sesame, chives, coriander, safflowers, horses and bactrian camels to China.[18] Camels carried Chinese tea to Moscow until the opening of the Trans Siberian Railway, in 1906.

From Samarkand, once the crossroads of the world, another route led south to India and a third major route connected Baghdad with the ancient civilizations of Arabia and Africa.

Routes within Africa are not as well known but the ruins of the city known as Great Zimbabwe date back to about 800 AD and the site was occupied long before that.[19] The Karanga people who built the city appear to have traded with India, Arabia and southeast Asia. Most of this trade seems to have been carried in Chinese ships, but Arabs had ships that could have traded over the same routes. There is also evidence of travel and trade between the Americas and West Africa long before Columbus 'discovered' America.[20] As far as we know neither West Africans nor aboriginal Americans used sailing ships but, as people in the Pacific have proved time and again, dugout canoes can make long ocean voyages.[21] There is also some evidence of pre-historic contact, if not trade, between the Americas and Asia, and even that settlers from southeast Asia, or perhaps Australia, came to the Americas long before the ancestors of the people we call 'Indians.'[22]

Within the Americas the Inca, based in Peru, traded over more than a thousand miles up and down the west coast of South America. Some evidence suggests contact between the Inca and the Aztec, who lived on the present site of Mexico City, and we know that people who lived at Cahokia, near the present city of St. Louis, traded with the Aztec; with the Cree who lived north of the Great Lakes, and east and west to both coasts of North America.[23]

THE ARMY

Trade spread knowledge but the wealth it produced was a motive for robbery. In turn, robbery probably produced the first army.

Most of us take armies for granted, as though they had always existed. They have been around for a long time but they had to start sometime and we're looking at the time when the first army formed.

An army is an extension of a raiding party, which is a development of a traditional hunting party, but it is distinct from either of them. Hunting and raiding parties are temporary and when the hunt or the raid is over, the hunters or raiders split the take and go home. They may go out again but the party breaks up after each hunt or raid and it must re-form for the next. Even if the same people join each venture, the party itself does not continue from hunt to hunt or from raid to raid.

A militia is also a temporary group. When raiders attack the locals fight but when the raid is over the defenders go back to hunting and gathering or making pots or whatever. Members of a militia have a life of their own, and they fight only when they are attacked.

But the soldiers of an army live to fight and they may have nowhere to go when the battle is done. If they are raiders they make their living by war and if they are defenders they make their living by the threat of war. The army is a new kind of human group, so how did it develop? Here's one possible scenario.

Suppose a band of people are driven out of their territory, perhaps by drought or forest fire or because they are caught in a squeeze between two larger bands. Perhaps they are misfits, driven out of their own band. For one reason or another they become vagabonds.

As hunters and gatherers they could make a living almost anywhere but if other bands control the land they may not allow this group to settle.

With nothing to lose the vagabonds become robbers, preying on traders. Because of the robbers some traders form caravans and hire guards, who are available either because they are themselves vagabonds or because they do not get along well in their own bands or because they want to see the world.

Our band of vagabonds attacks a caravan and kills the traders or drives them off but some of the guards survive. Until now the attackers have been a small band of close friends and relatives, but now one of them gets a bright idea.

Maybe he knows one of the surviving defenders or maybe he just admires the way he fought. For one reason or another the raiders offer some of the surviving guards a place in their band, and the guards accept.

That's no surprise to us because it was commonplace in historic times. Most of the empires in history enlarged their armies by enlisting defeated foes but the first time it happened was a big change because, up to this point, all hunting and raiding parties were groups of close friends with no outsiders.

The idea of an alliance with strangers is radical but it works. The band that accepts former enemies as recruits becomes bigger and it can raid more effectively. Because it raids effectively more recruits join it and, because it continues to accept recruits, it gets much bigger and stronger than other bands. Eventually it becomes an army.

This is a new organization and probably the first human system. The army is very different from the kinship and friendship-based organizations that came before it, partly because it does not have the kind of priorities that humans are used to.

Up to this point most human groups have been based on families and the first priority of a functional family is the welfare of the children. The survival of the parents is a factor in the welfare of the children but, if necessary, many parents will die to protect their children.

We know this is normal behavior among many animals and we can assume that the protection of children is inherent in human nature. It must be, because families that did not protect their children would have died out. The families that survived to populate the world were those that protected their children.

In a family, the strong protect the weak. If a tiger threatens a family the father faces it first, backed up by his eldest sons. In an extended family the best fighters will lead an attack or defense and all the men will protect all the women and children. If a family runs short of food or water the children and nursing mothers will get full rations while men go without.

An army works the other way round. The commander of an army may be the strongest warrior and he may lead his men into battle but he does not feel a duty to protect his subordinates -- especially not the ones who were his foes last week. In an army the common soldiers are the first to be sacrificed.

And they have no choice in the matter. The fighting men of a family may sacrifice themselves if necessary, but the sacrifice will be voluntary and the beneficiaries will be their family. The sacrifice of soldiers in an army is at the discretion of the commanding officer and it may be for objectives that mean nothing to the soldiers.

Most of the soldiers of an army have no bond of kinship and the army itself has a purpose which may have no direct relationship to the welfare of the soldiers. Whatever that purpose is, soldiers are expected to place the interests of the army ahead of their own.

An army will make sure that its soldiers are well fed but it cares for them the way a workman cares for his tools -- so they will be in good condition when they are used.

The concern of a family or a clan for its members is different. If a member of a family is wounded, the family will take serious risks to save him. If a member of a hunting party is seriously injured, the hunt may be canceled while the others care for him.

If a soldier is wounded he may be cared for or he may not. Either way it is certain that a war, raid or other action will not be called off while the officers tend his wounds. Even in peacetime the welfare of a common soldier is not allowed to interfere with the plans of an army and it may not be allowed to interfere with the convenience of its officers.

As citizens of the modern world we are used to this attitude. We don't expect systems to worry about the welfare of junior members but until the development of the first army all human organizations were based on families and, in a family, the welfare of the junior members is a primary concern.

An army perverts human behavior but, partly because it is willing to sacrifice soldiers, it is invincible. We have no records from pre-history, of course, but we know that in historic times no group of hunters and gatherers has been able to stand for long against an army and that armies and the cultures they created, have literally taken over the world.

THE MARCH OF THE ARMIES

A band of robbers may attack a caravan but armies seek bigger prey. The first army to take a village probably plundered it and moved on but now we see another evolutionary development.

After a caravan is robbed the traders have nothing left to steal. A village produces wealth and if you rob it this month, you can rob it again next month. Sooner or later an army takes a village and, instead of moving on and coming back to rob it again later, holds it.

Now the army has a base and, in some ways, that might be a problem. At this stage it may not be considered a crime to rob strangers but, because traders will avoid routes and territory where they are robbed, it is bad policy to rob them on your own territory.

But there is another way. Robbers who take only a portion of a trader's goods can call it a 'toll' or 'duty.' If one route is haunted by robbers and another is held by a robber baron who takes only some of their goods, traders will travel the route held by the robber baron. In fact the robbers who waylay caravans on one route may be the soldiers who guard them on the other, but that is not relevant. The soldiers are not allowed to rob people who have paid the toll and who remain within the protected area.

A robber baron lives better than a highwayman because he can build a fortress and hold land. Even in historic times, many castles were built to enforce a local aristocrat's claim to a toll on goods passing through 'his' land.

The aristocrat's 'property' often includes a village or two and, in some cases, the aristocrat or his ancestors may have come to those villages as robbers. We can infer that some villages were robbed from the fact that some early villages were fortified. By about 5,000 BC a village near the present city of Mersin, in southern Anatolia, included a fortress with barracks for soldiers.[24]

That fort and the barracks it contains represent a new era in human history. In later years the soldiers stationed in a village may have been mercenaries, hired to defend it, but it's a safe bet that the first army based in a village had taken over by intimidation or perhaps actual violence.

Either way it creates a new situation because the village now includes two distinct and probably hostile groups -- the villagers and the soldiers. The tension this creates will eventually produce The System.[25]

A NEW WORLD

By modern standards the first army was a small band of thugs and the village they took was barely a hamlet but the conquest and occupation of that village led to class distinctions among people, slavery and the 'battle of the sexes,' land ownership and farming, the cash economy, poverty and conspicuous consumption, social conflict, formal religion, government and, probably, a significant change in the nature of humanity. We have to deal with these developments one at a time but, as we do, please understand that they all took place more or less simultaneously.[26]

Up to this point there were probably no class distinctions in the human world. Among hunters and gatherers all are equal and -- aside from the distinction that men generally hunt and women generally gather -- everybody lives the same way. Some people have more prestige than others but in most cases the prestige is related to a specific skill. One man might be known as the best tracker and another as the best shot with a bow and arrow or be able to throw a spear farther and more accurately than others but, in general, all members of the group are equal. Anthropologist Paul Radin says:

"If one were asked to state briefly and succinctly what are the outstanding positive features of aboriginal civilizations I, for one, would have no hesitation in answering that there are three: the respect for the individual, irrespective of age or sex; the amazing degree of social and political integration achieved by them; and the existence there of a concept of personal security which transcends all government forms and all tribal and group interests and conflicts."[27]

A craft village is also ruled by a hierarchy of respect, rather than authority. It may include members of several different families and it may have masters and apprentices but an artisan is an artisan and, where everyone can take care of themselves, all are equal. One potter or basket-weaver may be more skilled than another, but they are all artisans.

On the face of it a master and his apprentice are not equal but in a craft village an apprentice was probably someone who pestered a master for instruction, rather than someone who had to do what he was told. Even an apprentice who has to obey is training to be a master himself, and is potentially equal to the master who trains him. A trader may be wealthier than an artisan, but he knows that his wealth depends on artisans.

But the officers and men of an army are not equal and, after the army takes a village, the villagers will not be equal to the conquerors. After the conquest the commander of the army is the unquestioned ruler of the village. He will soon be transformed into a robber baron and from now on we will refer to him as The Baron.

Under The Baron are his officers, stratified according to rank but all of them distinctly superior to everyone else. Under the officers are the soldiers and under them the villagers.

This is quite distinct from the rank or prestige that might be granted to an exceptional individual in a hunting and gathering community or a craft village, because in a free society prestige must be earned and justified by the individual who enjoys it. In the occupied village a common soldier of the occupying army outranks a respected villager and the officers of the army -- even The Baron himself -- will demand that the villager bow to the soldier.

The presence of the army will also create new distinctions among the villagers. Traders will probably rank highest among civilians, because the army knows and appreciates the value of trade. It may have robbed some of these same traders in the past, and it recognizes them as a source of wealth.

Traders who pay a toll to The Baron will be free -- even encouraged -- to come and go as they please and to bring as much trade as they can to the village. In return, the army promises that it will not rob traders and that it will chase other robbers away from the area. For a price, the army may even provide traders with an escort through dangerous areas.

Some craftsmen will also have higher status than other villagers, either because they produce high-quality goods that can be taxed or traded or because they produce weapons the army can use. Either way they will be allowed or encouraged or, if need be, forced to ply their trade. In return, the army will treat them better than other villagers.

And some villagers will become tools of the army. In the first days after the conquest the soldiers may have tried to control everything directly but we can assume that did not work because it did not become the standard practice. Local villagers know their way around and invading soldiers don't, so the soldiers could not run the village efficiently.

The system that seems to work, and which is still the norm, is for the invading army to appoint a few locals as agents to pass their orders along to the others.

Some villagers will be more willing than others to serve as civil administrators, of course, but we need not assume that all the men who agree to help the army are traitors. Some villagers might collaborate because they hope to gain power but the ideal civil administrator from the army's point of view is popular and well-respected, and such a man may accept the job because it gives him an opportunity to protect other villagers from excesses by the soldiers.

Either way, as they serve the army the administrators will be seen as allies of the army and enemies of many of their fellow villagers. Eventually they may begin to see the soldiers as friends and their fellow villagers as real or potential enemies.

SOLDIERS AND SLAVES

After the army settles in, some of the villagers will be slaves. The idea of slavery is not new -- some species of ants keep slaves and they may have done so for tens of millions of years before the first man was born -- but we can assume that up to this point there was no long-term slavery among humans.

Hunters and gatherers don't keep slaves, partly because most of their 'work' is more pleasure than work and few people would want to avoid it.

Perhaps more important, hunters and gatherers have no way to keep or to use slaves. A hunting and gathering camp is not normally fenced, even in modern times, and everyone raised in a hunting and gathering society knows how to live off the land. Unless he or she were continuously watched or tied up, a slave in a hunting and gathering camp could simply walk away and disappear.

Further, most of the work for a man in a hunting and gathering society is hunting and to make the best use of a male slave his master would have to give him weapons and turn him loose in the wilderness. A female slave would not need weapons but to be useful she would have to be free to roam the wilderness and, like the hunter, she could easily run away.

Craftsmen in a village might be able to use slaves but before the army came it would have been difficult to keep them, because the village was barely one step removed from a hunting and gathering economy and everybody would have known how to live as a hunter-gatherer. Besides, virtually everybody in the village has relatives nearby who would not allow a kinsman to be enslaved.

But an army must keep constant watch and, because it is always on guard, it can keep captives and force them to make and repair weapons and equipment, to build camps and even to fight. The idea of slave soldiers may sound strange but historical and even modern times have seen many armies of slaves. The Mamluks who ruled several countries in the middle east for a couple of hundred years began as a slave army, organized in 833 AD by the Caliph of Baghdad.[28]

In the occupied village any villagers who are of no immediate use to the army are in essentially the same position as the losers in a game of musical chairs.

Once a popular school and parlor game, 'musical chairs' is played by a group of people who dance around a circle of chairs. When the music stops they all sit down, but there is always one more player than there are chairs. One person is left standing each time and he or she drops out of the game.

Villagers who do not have an established role when the soldiers come don't have the option of dropping out. They must accept the role the soldiers assign them, and that role may be as slaves.

The first job for the slaves will be to build a fortress. This will be a huge building by village standards because many of the soldiers will have to live in it, perhaps for the rest of their lives, and it must be able to hold out against a long-term siege.

This is a new requirement because bandits spend most of their time either running or hiding or pretending that they are not bandits. After the army takes the village everyone knows who and what and where the soldiers are, and most of the villagers are their enemies. Hunters and gatherers who live outside the village are friends and relatives of the villagers and therefore enemies of the soldiers.

To be safe the soldiers must live in a fortress with a store of food and a well. The village may not have a well if it lies beside or perhaps straddles a river or stream, but even some animals know that if you dig a hole you often find water. We have to assume that men probably knew about wells by this time and, in case of siege, the soldiers will demand a well within the fortress.

We don't have to assume that all conquering armies built fortresses, dug wells and stored food against a siege, but it is a safe bet that most of the ones that survived did.

The fortress will be the biggest and strongest structure in the village and, through history, fortresses and castles have usually been among the most impressive structures produced by any culture. Some fortresses and castles that were built more than a thousand years ago are still in use.

At this point most buildings are probably built of sticks and wattle, or perhaps mud brick. The fortress might be built the same way but the idea of stone construction is probably known, if not well developed. With captive villagers to do the work, the soldiers may demand that their fortress be built of stone.

THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES

Some women will be enslaved too, when the army takes the village, and this may be the beginning of the 'battle of the sexes' that causes so much misery in the modern world.

Among hunters and gatherers men and women are inherently equal, because either could live without the other. Among most groups there is a division of labor -- men hunt and women gather -- but that is a matter of convenience and custom.

A single man could find his own vegetable food and a single woman could probably find as much meat as she needs. She may not even have to find her own meat because, among most hunters and gatherers, everyone in a camp is entitled to a share of a big kill whether they took part in the hunt or not.

The only time women in a hunting and gathering society really need men is when they are in the last stages of pregnancy or have young babies to take care of, and if they have no men they don't get pregnant.

Men and women in a craft village are equal too. They may work at different crafts but one is as important as another and both men and women could go back to hunting and gathering if they had to.

But the women who follow an army are not free. Some camp followers are probably volunteers but some are probably slaves, because raiders who capture a camp or a village can take any women who survive the raid. As captives these women will have no rights and they can be treated as property. Because slave girls have no rights, all women who follow the army will have to do what they are told.

The women most likely to be taken as slaves will be the widows and daughters of men who died when the raiders came, but women whose husbands or fathers survive will also lose their freedom. They are now hostages and, even if they are allowed to live at home, they are liable to be killed or enslaved if their men rebel against the new rulers.

In a village ruled by soldiers, women are property. They are subject primarily to the whims of soldiers, but male domination will be the norm.

Soldiers will dominate women because most of the women they deal with are slaves and, after the army takes over, the men of the village will dominate women because the soldiers do it. They must, because if they do not they give the soldiers another point of superiority over them.

They can do it because the threat of the soldiers gives the village men power over the women of their families. Among hunters and gatherers or in a village of craftsmen women can leave if they don't like the way a man treats them but when soldiers come a woman is trapped. A wife who leaves her husband or a daughter who leaves her father's house has no protection and may be taken as a slave by the soldiers.

Even women who are not taken as slaves of the soldiers may be forced to collect food. When it attacks the village the army probably has food for a couple of days but not much more, and it is now surrounded by enemies inside the village and out.

Until now the villagers collected some of their own food and traded with neighboring hunters and gatherers for the rest but after the army takes over the hunters and gatherers -- many of whom may have crossed trails with the army before -- may not come to trade.

If the neighbors won't trade and it's not safe to hunt the soldiers will be short of meat for a while but people everywhere -- including hunters and gatherers -- keep animals as pets and there are probably some in the village. To the villagers a small pig may be a pet, but to the soldiers it is a meal.

If the village has been established for a while there is lots of food available in the surrounding woods and fields and village women will be sent, under guard, to gather it. The first function of the guard will be to prevent the women from escaping or plotting with hostile hunters and gatherers but soldiers will also mount guard against hunters and gatherers who may want to gather food or who may burn the fields to harass the army. In time this will lead to private ownership of land and, later, the development of farms.

THE CASH ECONOMY

The conquest of the village also created the cash economy. Until that time most villagers, like hunters and gatherers, lived in what economists call a 'subsistence economy.' Some people think that means they were poor, but that's not necessarily so. A subsistence economy is one in which people make, collect or hunt most of the things they need, and they do not have to trade to live. They may be rich or poor but they do not live by trade and they don't try to amass wealth that they have no immediate use for.

In modern times most hunters and gatherers in subsistence economies have a higher standard of living than most of the farmers and industrial workers of history. They do not have television or washing machines but they do not need them and they work less, play more and eat better than most of the modern American middle class.

At the other extreme consider a child laborer knotting rugs or sewing soccer balls in a third-world village. He or she may work 15 hours a day and earn just barely enough money to buy the cheapest food available but, because he or she must earn money to buy food, he or she is part of a cash rather than a subsistence economy.

Even in a subsistence economy there was probably some trade but it was not the basis of the economy and it would have been conducted in a very different manner. Except for luxury or exotic goods like jewelry or axes most trades would have been with friends and relatives and the traders would probably have granted each other almost unlimited credit.

If I buy a pot from your wife I might pay for it by giving a fish to your brother, or arrows to your cousin, some time in the next year or so. We are all friends and relatives and, in an economy of plenty, we don't have to worry about precise book-keeping. Even among bands and villages that supported full-time artisans the most dependable store of value was in family ties, friendship and general good will.

But there is no good will between the army and the village it has conquered and, even among villagers, friendship and family ties are no longer as dependable as they once were.

We can assume that there was no money in the world at this point but, even so, this is the beginning of the cash economy. Formal money is a relatively recent development but by this time the concept of treasure would be well established.

We know that jewelry dates back to the neolithic because some has been found. We can infer the possibility that neolithic axes may have been used to store value because some of the earliest ingots of copper in northern Europe were cast in the form of a double-bitted axe -- perhaps to suggest a relationship between the value of the copper and the value of an axe. In the Mediterranean area, copper ingots were often cast in a shape reminiscent of an ox-hide. In historic times tea leaves, cocoa beans, sea shells and huge rocks have all been used as forms of money.

We can't guess what the people of the occupied village used as a medium of exchange but we can assume that people who were free to demand payment for their goods or services would do so. Whatever the currency, the occupied village will have a cash economy.

This is a two-edged sword. On the one hand a cash economy allows the division of labor to an incredible extent.

In the opening pages of his classic {Wealth of Nations} author Adam Smith describes a workshop in which ten men make pins. One man draws the wire, another cuts it, another puts a point on the pin, another adds the head, yet another packages the finished pins and so-forth. Between them, Smith says, they make about 48,000 pins a day -- far more than they could if each man did every job.[29]

Smith's argument is valid but if he wanted to count all the men who had a hand in making those pins he should have included the men who made the steel, the men who mined the ore and coal that was used to make the steel, the men who made the tools that were used to mine the coal and the ore, the men who made the axe that cut the tree that was used to make the paper the pins are packaged in and so forth. In a cash economy work can be divided to the point where literally thousands of people contribute to the production of a simple pin.

The example of the men who made the steel that was used to make the axe that was used to cut the tree that was used to make the paper the pins were packed in is extreme but, even at the level of first-remove, it takes literally dozens of factories to make a complex product. According to one industry estimate, for example, the average American car is made in about 100 separate factories -- and even that is very conservative.

The engine is made in one plant, the body in another, the tires in another and so-forth, and each one of these components is itself the product of several factories. The finished engine, for example, will include castings from a foundry, machined parts from several machine shops and filters, wiring, an electrical starter motor and alternator, spark plugs, fan belts and dozens of other parts that come not only from different factories, but also from different companies and often from different continents. If we split it down further we would find that a starter motor, for example, includes wiring that is made by one company from copper produced by another and insulation produced by yet another. Beyond this level we also have to consider the mines that produced the materials for all these components and beyond that the manufacturers of the tools used by the miners, and so-forth, ad infinitum

The cash economy makes it possible for countless people who will never meet each other to cooperate to produce goods that could never be produced in a subsistence economy, but it has drawbacks. One is that cash is an abstract form of wealth and, in a cash economy, we can and may be tempted to hoard beyond reason.

Hunters and gatherers can store food but, in an economy of plenty in which storage is relatively expensive, they do not store much. Once they have all they can use, they quit working.

But we can never have too much cash. Tens of thousands of wealthy men around the world have far more than they can ever consume, but they keep working. In some cases they love their work but in others the love of money, or the perceived need for an infinite supply of money, is a form of madness.

The concept of hoarding probably began about this time. An army must be prepared for a siege and it needs to store enough food to supply the soldiers and some of the villagers for an indefinite period. Besides, where food is bought and sold a store of food is wealth.

The combination of stratification and the potential for hoarding also create the potential for conspicuous consumption. Because a person's comfort and even his life in the occupied village may depend on his or her position in the hierarchy, people feel a need to attain and display high status.

Hunters and gatherers enjoy high status too, when they can earn it, but where wealth can not be easily stored a man displays his ability to hunt, gather or make more than he can use by giving the surplus away as gifts. In a cash economy wealth can be stored or invested in treasure that can be displayed. In a cash-based society a display of wealth is so powerful that criminals and others who are known to be enemies of society may be 'respected' for the opulence of their public display.

In the days of the craft village there was no need for display but, even though they may not have looked prosperous, the villagers must have had an easy life. We can presume this because we know that hunters and gatherers had an easy life and, in a free and un-crowded world, people could live where and how they wanted to. If some chose to live in a village we can assume that life in a village was at least as good as life as a hunter-gatherer.

But that was partly because everyone was self supporting and no one had to provide for more than himself or herself and his or her family. In the occupied village the villagers have to support the army -- which may out-number the villagers -- and the villagers who collaborate with the soldiers and the slaves who build the fort and, beyond all this, they must also provide the army with a surplus of food to store against a siege.

Further, the people of the craft village were free to hunt and gather in the fields around the village and neighboring hunters and gatherers were free to come into the village to trade. After the army takes over the villagers are not allowed to gather, except under armed guard, and hunters and gatherers do not come to trade. Now the army controls the food supply and even the women who gather food can eat only what the soldiers allow them to keep. Soldiers can hunt near the village, but they don't have to share their kill with villagers.

History tells us that many early peasants and villagers lived in poverty and that even petty nobles lived in relative magnificence. Our culture teaches us to regard the nobles' wealth as the property of the nobles, but not to ask where it came from or how they got it.

THE NEW ORDER

Poverty is a new development because up to this point, living was easy. People worked as much or as little as they chose to, at tasks they chose themselves, and whether they worked or not everyone had plenty to eat.

Under the army the villagers will be poor and everybody will have to work to eat. Even the conquerors and their collaborators have to work harder than free hunters, gatherers or craftsmen.

The Baron gets first choice of all food but to protect his position and perhaps his life he has to please, pay and dominate his army and his officers. The officers in turn must dominate their men and please The Baron and, soon, a group of army officers, village collaborators, some traders and others will form a 'court' in which they will plot to gain The Baron's favor and watch out for others plotting against them. Executives of many modern corporations would feel right at home.

The army and its collaborators will live on the work of the villagers and we could consider them parasites, but that does not mean their life is easy. Even low-level minions in The Baron's service must make a display to show that they have The Baron's favor and, because they will be judged on it, they are under continual pressure to make more and more magnificent display. Most of the minions will be wealthier than most villagers but they will need all their wealth and more to pay for the display they need to maintain their position. For his part The Baron will allow his favorites to take some villagers as slaves or to demand taxes, tolls or some other type of payment from them.

If The Baron expands his domain he will give some of his officers villages to rule in his name and, as he gives some villages to his supporters he will have to conquer others to maintain his own wealth. In time he will become a king or an emperor and, as others follow in his footsteps, most common people around the world will be subjected to systems.

For most of the past five thousand years -- the period we think of as 'history' -- most of humanity has been enslaved by a few rulers and nobles. It is tempting to think of the rulers and nobles as villains -- and I do not suggest that they are blameless -- but we must remember that they could not rule alone. They were part of a system.

For every king there were dozens of nobles who supported him and who expected him to act like a king. Every noble was supported by officers who expected nobles to act like nobles and the officers were supported by soldiers who expected officers to act like officers. The System also included tax gatherers who were expected to act like tax gatherers, priests who were expected to act like priests and so-forth. The king is the head of state but the real ruler is The System and the people we see as rulers are just part of it.

Slaves and serfs are also part of the system, because they know no other way to live. Even now, in what we consider an age of enlightenment, most of us would be unable to live outside a system and Milgram's experiments show that most well-educated middle-class Americans will obey commands that we might expect intelligent and humane people to resist. In the village, freedom will soon be forgotten and The Baron and his friends -- and even the villagers -- will accept The Baron's right to rule.

As the new order takes shape we find that people in the occupied village fall into two distinct groups, each with two sub-groups and, even though one person might conceivably be a member of all four sub-groups at the same time, they all have quite different characteristics. I call the two main groups the makers and the takers.

Makers make (or hunt or gather or grow) the goods we all use in our everyday lives. Among hunters and gatherers everybody was a maker and, as a general rule, each family or small band made or hunted or gathered everything it used. Among some groups full-time artisans made goods for others and accepted the fruits of others' hunting and gathering -- and perhaps goods made by other specialized artisans in trade -- but they were still makers. Makers in the modern world work in craft shops and in factories, and on farms and ranches and fishing boats. They are the people who support us all.

Takers take things from the makers who produce them. Robbers are takers and so are The Baron and his army. Because they rule the village we do not call the soldiers and their collaborators robbers, but they produce nothing themselves and they take what they want by force or by threat of force. Even the commander and soldiers of a defensive army are takers, because they can demand what they want and the villagers must provide it. If they don't the army could take it anyway, or it could quit and leave the village open to take-over by another army.

We also have two sub-sets. Traders don't make the goods they use and they live on the produce of others, but they don't take goods without payment and they perform a valuable function because goods gain value when they are taken from one place to another -- even if only from the workshop to the market. Even though they don't make things, we have to group them with the makers.

In neolithic times top-quality stone axes were traded over hundreds of miles. Even if there were no robbers the traders' life was sometimes dangerous but they brought axes to people who had no access to the quarries that produced the best stone and, as we have seen, they were a key factor in the spread of ideas.

Agents are the villagers and others who work for The Baron as tax collectors and so forth. I see them as a sub-set of takers because while they may not take goods in their own name, they do take them. This group also includes shamans and priests who are supported by an army or who demand a 'tithe' or other tax from the villagers. At some times and places priests were the ultimate and often the greediest, power in the land. Agents perform a service but, for the most part, they serve takers rather than makers.[30]

The advent of takers and agents brings a major change to the village because up to this point makers had an easy life. After takers move in the makers have to support them and their agents and, with The Baron and his soldiers as a model, some villagers will try to become takers themselves by collaborating with the invaders or in other ways.

Before the army took the village takers were, by definition, criminals. After the conquest takers made the rules and they made some forms of taking legal. For the past several thousand years many of the brightest and potentially most productive people of every era have spent most of their lives developing new and marginally legal ways to take the products of makers.

Our modern economy is so complex that the line between makers and takers is blurred, and it's blurred still more by the fact that a modern economy could not function without some people that we might consider to be takers, but we're not talking about the modern economy. This was a village that was taken by an army before the dawn of recorded history and, at that time, virtually all takers were parasites who lived off makers.

A COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

The occupied village must have seemed strange to people of the time but, in some ways, it would have felt like home to the denizens of a coral reef.

It would have seemed strange to humans because up to this point all human communities had been groups of friends, relatives and allies. The members of hunting and gathering bands, the residents of villages and even groups of bandits all have common aims and ambitions, and all are willing to protect and help any other member of their group. We have already quoted anthropologist Paul Radin on the aboriginals' "concept of personal security which transcends all government forms and all tribal and group interests and conflicts."

But after the army moves in the village is more like a coral reef where many different kinds of fish and other animals live together; and some are food for others. Neighbors in the occupied village don't eat each other but they are not all friends and some may exploit, rob or kill others.

The Baron rules but he knows that many of the villagers and even some of his own men would like to kill him, for revenge or in a bid to take over. The officers of the army live well but every one of them knows that if he drops his guard he might be murdered by a villager, by one of his own soldiers or even by another officer who sees him as a rival. They are in the same army now, but some of them were once deadly foes. In the Vietnam war there were rumors that the United States lost nearly as many officers to their own men as to the enemy. In the opening days of the Second Gulf War two American officers were killed and 14 wounded when an American soldier rolled a grenade into the tent in which they slept.[31]

Soldiers in the occupied village don't have to fear the villagers when they stay in groups but any one of them might be in danger if he were to walk down a dark alley alone, or go alone into the woods. A soldier also has to watch out for officers who might catch him in some breach of the rules, or who might assign him extra duty or some other inconvenience.

Traders know that soldiers might protect them from robbers on the road but, if the opportunity arises, those same soldiers might rob them. With the advent of the cash economy and the pressure of conspicuous consumption in the village, traders also have to worry about villagers who might pilfer their wares or steal their treasure.

Some of the craftsmen in the occupied village will be wealthier than they were in the craft village, but they won't have as pleasant a life. Like hunters and gatherers free craftsmen work when they feel like working but in the occupied village a craftsman must ply his trade full time or risk being enslaved. Further, the residents of a free village can hunt and gather their own food but now The Baron and his officers control the land around the village and they do not allow villagers to hunt or gather for themselves. Craftsmen who make equipment for the army or expensive trade goods may do very well -- The Baron may even give them slaves to help with the heavy work -- but they must fear the competition of other craftsmen, the officers and administrators who may demand bribes, their own slaves and other villagers who may rob them.

Villagers who serve as agents of The Baron live in physical comfort but also in fear of The Baron and his demands on the one hand, and of possible reprisals by villagers on the other. Slaves may or may not live in reasonable comfort but, either way, they will resent the soldiers who enslaved them and hate the masters who use them.

Like hunters and gatherers the residents of a craft village lived among friends. Like the denizens of a coral reef, or of a modern city, the residents of an occupied village lived among enemies and potential enemies.

And as around a coral reef, in burrows in the Arabian desert and on the mud flats of African rivers, metasystems developed.

We're going to try to track some of these metasystems and, as we go along, we will find that many of them are layered, one on top of another.

That's also the way it works in nature. Remember the termites?

An individual termite is a system with internal systems that have internal systems but it is also part of a larger system, and many biologists think of the larger system as an individual animal.

We're not going to worry about the individual entities that together make up the life forms we call human beings but, as we look at human systems and metasystems, we will find that in fact we are all members of several of each, all at the same time.

To visualize this, imagine that you have thrown a couple of dozen hula hoops on the floor of an average sized room. If they were spread out without overlapping the hoops would fill the room three or four times over.

But they do overlap, in a more-or-less random pattern. If you now throw a few dozen smaller hoops into the room most or all will come to rest within one or more of the hula hoops. If you then throw a dime into the room the chances are that, wherever it lands, it will fall within three or four different small and large hoops.

In the same way, nearly every human being in the world is a member of several metasystems and probably at least one system. And, one way or another, we are all subject to The System.

Forward to Stratification

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