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VARY SOCIAL AFFINITY BUT NOT HUMAN RIGHTS

Some time ago I posted a piece questioning whether humans are more like bees or Australian brush turkeys. https://wp.me/p1z4yo-lM Bees are gregarious and nurture their offspring, whereas brush turkeys never meet their parents and lead solitary lives except for mating. Most humans are between these extremes.

To evaluate human developments, particularly those that control behaviour, such as political and economic systems, it is helpful to have agreed humankind’s destiny there. They could provide for hive-like sociality, or isolation, or alternate between the two.

It is difficult choose which way is best for humans. Tradition could express atavistic longing for the kinds of group living evolved by primates and hominids. Some humans in lockdown from the pandemic have suffered a deficit of communal care by traditional standards. Others have enjoyed more than usual.

There are many considerations other than tradition and pandemics. People can be individualistic and selfish, or altruistic and kind to strangers. There is a spectrum of ‘social affinity’ with people and nations varying widely. Countries ideally accept tourists’ selfishness but they may find observing local customs of tipping service off-putting, or even offensive. 

Strengths of bonding between people and within communities can increase or decrease with hardship, wealth and war. It is possible that as material prosperity increases, individuals become less group-minded. Conversely, dislocation can foster selfishness.

It is unlikely that human psyches can flex enough to change their position very far along the spectrum. We would not expect a brush turkey to take to living in a beehive, nor a bee to be content to live estranged from its kind like brush turkeys. Perhaps the amount of sociality for humans should not be a monotheism, but we will enjoy living with diversity, both in local communities and within a community of nations.

Totalitarianism exists where humans are subjected to a central dictatorial authority, with civil society replaced by atomised individuals, who feel isolated, superfluous and fearful, without rights. There are too many nations where such conditions exist, including several superpowers. These offensive regimes can be mitigated by attention to human rights.

To avoid totalitarianism, a person must have their rights respected, such as to have a fair trial. Will bees in a crowded hive inevitably have fewer rights than free-roaming brush turkeys? Humans in densely populated countries need as many or even more rights than in sparsely populated countries like Australia. Isolated individuals may have fewer encounters with others but they could be as harmful and as cruel. 

In summary, the social affinity of individuals is part of the fabric of life and can differ between countries. People have different experiences and need to be tolerant of others within sectarian cultures, especially under totalitarianism, where individuals need rights at least as protective of them as of isolated individuals in other countries. There are turkeys everywhere.

My writing on this and other topics is at https://martinknox.com

Brush Turkey

INDIGENOUS LIVING MATTERS


INDIGENOUS LIVING MATTERS

HISTORY
Australia’s indigenous people have experienced 4 phases in relation to the majority.
1. Mutualism briefly after Europeans arrived
2. Elimination, by disease, physical combat and genocide.
3. Assimilation of survivors
4. Incarceration of objectors

In 2020, indigenous persons were 3.3% of the population, and one in four were in prison.

INDEPENDENCE
Australia’s outback has retained some largely-indigenous communities from before European settlement and developed others since. These communities are stable and self-sufficient, with self-administered health and welfare services, police and education.

INTEGRATION
Indigenous living in Australia has a spectrum of integration, from dispersed living in cities, through partial ghettos, to integrated communities in outback towns.

GHETTOS
Leicester in England is one of several English cities where ethnic residents have adopted separate living in ghettos, condoned by secular authorities, bringing peace to the city’s suburbs. A research finding is that poor Somali students can accomplish more learning in ghetto schools than in better-off integrated schools.

SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT
Brisbane’s Hymba Yumba is an independent school where about 200 mainly indigenous students between Years 1 and 12 study selected school subjects across the national curriculum, presented in indigenous languages. Separate development of indigenous people encourages independence but could reduce assimilation.

APARTHEID
Racial segregation by territory is not present in Australia. Archbishop Tutu declared that treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse. Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza is reported to have become more brutal over time with ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations.

CONCLUSION
Assimilation is partial. Independence, integration, ghetto-living and separate development are alternatives. No single development strategy is followed. Individual choice is limited by affordability. Social friction has been exacerbated by Black Lives Matter conflict in the USA.
My speculative fiction novel The Grass is Always Browner considers indigeneity in Australia 250 years in the future.
http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

PRIVATE AND PUBLIC RISKS OF COVID-19

Risk of catching COVID-19 while going to work is like driving on a public road. You could die, but with observation and caution, it is safe enough and not worth worrying about a homicidal driver.
Probability of transmission to you of COVID-19 virus particles, from infectious persons, has opaque and complex processes too difficult for you to quantify your chances of infection. If you are a risk adverse person, isolation is a logical response to minimise exposure. But you may be expected to go to work, need to earn, or want not to cringe because learned helplessness is bad for your health.
Nietzsche advocated personal fulfilment by taking risks without consideration for others, as taken up by Hitler and Stalin. A propensity for cavalier response to danger resides in your brain’s amygdala, especially if you are male and under 30 years. If you only have yourself to think about, without consequences for your family, friends and colleagues, or for people who you might unknowingly infect, it is easier to face the risk and forget potential consequences.
Simone De Beauvoir wanted the individual to seek their own existential freedom by respecting others’ freedoms. You could risk going out to free yourself but only after anticipating your responsibilities to others if you became infected.
When your calculations would include medical consequences for yourself and for those you care about, you might fear the worst and prefer isolation. If going to work would have consequences for the business and for your employer, you might remember that all business is inherently risky and the terms of your employment require you to sacrifice freedoms. A utilitarian would expect your decision to go to work to be of practical use to you, such as by earning, rather than to exercise freedom.
Analysis of expected risks can clarify the best course of action to take. There could be clear and present danger from going out, but with insufficient likelihood of incurring costs that would exceed the value of certain benefits you expect.
Because employers and employees have different interests, governments may step in with guidance. They may decide responsibly who to lockdown and who to go to work. They may give financial support. Economy-wide, the amount of relief to be paid by the community could be staggering. The contributions of those who take personal risks may be insufficient to ensure economic survival of a community supporting those who avoid risk. Private risk may not be covered by public indemnity. An individual’s best protection is to be forewarned and free to choose what risks they will or will not take.
http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

COVID-19 risks need careful consideration

OPPOSING COVID-19 WITH OBEDIENCE

Response to the current crisis has been actioned mainly by authoritarian governments.

Authority requires people to obey, when they could transmit the disease to others by following their own beliefs. The disadvantage is for people who are compelled against their beliefs, who perceive evidence, inconvenience and reasons to take an opposed view.

Suppose a person is considering a COVID-19 edict about isolation, social distancing, work closure, or restrained shopping. When rules are definite and obedience is sanctioned by law, they might consider choosing one of 4 possible alternatives.

 

MAJORITY

PERSON
OBEY DISOBEY
OBEY 1-Conformist 3-Maverick
DISOBEY 2-Prototype 4-Matthew Effect

What are the social corollaries of these choices?

1-Conforming will pay off if the ruling is correct. Choice of dominant leadership by the majority is usual in a crisis but might be rejected as fascism when less urgent.

2-The protoype obeys when others don’t. Self-sacrifice could be involved and martyrdom is unlikely to change the outcome. Machiavelli might have recognised it as the worst choice.

3-A maverick disobeys, benefits from the majority’s obedience and pleases himself. He could be worsening the situation for the others. It is a selfish strategy, one that Machiavelli might have recognised as his best choice.

4-The Matthew Effect is going with the majority. The advantage is to hide in the crowd from rulers and from blame.

This simple analysis has been intended to describe choices that matter to everyone. Sled dogs must pull in the same direction.

http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

 

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