Socialism is in our DNA

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Photo by Chen Hu on Unsplash

Libertarianism is seen as the natural state of human society, while socialism is portrayed as an unnatural state that is not sustainable. However, every society has socialism. Socialism is not an ideology, but a property of cooperation that exists in any organized human community. All societies have some flavor of socialism. They have some collective action that they must do together to survive. The military is the most basic of all socialist enterprises. Socialism may be SO natural to the human condition that socialism may be encoded into human DNA.

Imagine humans are on the plains of Africa a million years ago and different tribes control different waterholes. One tribal leader makes the people of the tribe “pay” in some kind of currency — hunting, or work or whatever the “leader” deems useful — to get a share of water or a share of the hunt. This “strong” leader with some well-chosen allies controls the rest of the tribe. Access to some very basic resources is restricted by the leadership of this hypothetical tribe.

In contrast, at another waterhole and in a different hypothetical tribe the leader operates a different kind regimen on water access and sharing the spoils of the hunt. In this tribe, basic resources are shared equally among tribal members. For example, access to the water hole is not restricted by tribal leadership. Leadership rewards hard working or especially talented hunters with surplus from the kills, but only after the tribe’s basic needs have been met. In this tribe, leadership operates more in partnership with the regular tribal members. This tribe’s leadership team has determined that access to basic resources makes everyone stronger. The rising tide raises all the boats is how Franklin Delano Roosevelt use to say it.

Now imagine, a lion pride came walking down upon the plain searching for a waterhole. The pride is on the plain occupied by these two hypothetical tribes. The waterhole where the spoils of the hunt were shared more equally — where access to water, for example, is a shared and a protected right as being a part of the tribe — In that tribe, they are all stronger. They all work together. They fight off those lions.

The lions move on to the other waterhole where access to the spoils of the hunt is strictly controlled by leadership. At this waterhole, the members, as a cooperative unit, are weaker. They lack cohesion, since they do not share in the spoils of the hunt or have equal access to water. Their desire to work and fight collectively is weakened. Their basic health is weaker as well. Since access to food and water is rewarded regardless of the basic needs of an individual. This tribe loses to the lions. Their selfish DNA is removed from the human gene pool and the lion pride takes over that water hole! The cooperative tribe survives to pass on its DNA.

Socialism is likely a part of human DNA. Socialism, collective action and human success are tied together. Socialism is not pie in the sky dreaming. It has been a real and proven survival mechanism for groups of humans since time immemorial.

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