Strategies are the most important part of human survival.
This is another take on Strategies. This is a different perspective than the precious essay on Strategies takes. This is a list of a variety of survival strategies used by different peoples in different circumstances, made to illustrate them as objects to be understood. I write in the realm of biology and so define a moral strategy as a survival strategy. (It is probably true in all cases except religion.) The whole point of this book is to describe what seems to me to be the one fundamental strategic foundation that will be needed for humans to survive into the future as more than animals. Let's call it "M" for now. It was not something I formulated and is not unique to me. It seems to have been figured out many times in history and that's part of the problem. Its importance can be overlooked. The point here is to list it as an object that can be understood and evaluated like the other strategies listed in this essay. I said this is about moral strategy. We normally don't analyze morality. We are designed to learn them as children and not examine them much after that, but now we must. That is part of the reason for this systematic list, but it also to show the alternatives to the one I am saying is so important.
The basic examination starts and ends with survival strategies for the tribal ecology that we developed in and are still most adapted to and survival strategy(s) appropriate to the ecology that started developing when humans created the farms and cities of civilization. There are though a number of parts to that. They will be reviewed some here.
I'll make a sideways comment here. A homework assignment in a philosophy class I took required us to write a philosophical statement. I knew little about philosophy, though I loved learning about Michael Polanyi. I spent an entire Saturday trying to come up with a philosophical statement. About 9 PM, I finally was tired enough to consider blurry ideas and wrote that the only singularity was that everything was a duality and had two sides to it. The instructor actually liked it. In hindsight, it seemed silly. Things might have any number of perspectives to them, but after a lot of thought, I'm pretty convinced that in the most important terms there really are only two fundamental strategies of human survival. The tribal one which is Darwinian and the one called "M" here so far. There is a lot to tribal survival strategy, so there is also the question of what is the fundamental part of that that I am referring to. I'll get there, but I need to get you to be thinking in logical terms about the subject.
C. D. Darlington extensively discussed the basic occupational castes of any civilization including peasant, crafter, scribe, priest and ruling class. Those are survival strategies inherited from tribes, but that really were not the main strategy of tribal humans such as hunting and gathering was. Not that Mr. Darlington didn't consider farmers and herders separately, but did extensively discuss how different the requirements for the occupation were and the different nature of those different peoples. That turns out to be important, partly because everyone is descended from them. Some individuals had superior specialized skills the allowed them to become scribes, builders or priests and found their niches in cities, but most people were still farmers and herders. It is important to think about what skills those two required. Farmers had to be tough and enduring. They had to have a feel for their crops and the work animals they used. They would have had to have at least minimal engineering skills. Certainly, the herder would have had to have a feel for their flock animals. They though lived in a far more irregular world as they followed their flocks around. Their strategy would have "wanted" them to expend minimal energy (a farmer would call them lazy) yet they had to be ready to instantly come alert to respond to a predator. Part of their strategy was raiding other people's flocks which is why Darlington said that all warrior castes were descended from herder tribes. I get the distinct impression that in contrast, the early farmers were a bit like mice, rather non-aggressive. Their challenge was generally the earth and weather, not other people. They relied on their leadership to direct the farming activity. All of this has to be looked at over time as crops, tools, herd animals, farmers, herders and other parts of civilization developed, particularly by the coming together of peoples due to migrations and wars. The most recent development of the farmer was the American Yeoman farmer that was a tough, smart, skilled, independent individual. The herder is marginalized worldwide and their warrior descendants no longer rule the world but don't count them out in civilization, because their ability to relax and then quickly respond to problems may be very useful to deal with automation.
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David Brin offered what seemed an insightful discussion describing the basic memes that all cultures follow. Either they are predominantly paranoid, conformist, macho, feudal or otherness. The otherness was a society interested on what other cultures might offer them to incorporate into their culture. The value of this description seems to me to lie in that it is easy to look at a culture and ascribe one of those labels to it. Do it yourself.
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How does science look at it? It depends on the science. Sociobiology describes that our social strategies, arguably the most important strategies of humans, come from reproductive characteristics of mammals including internal fertilization. This means that a male can potentially have far more children than a female so males and females need very different reproductive strategies. Males can potentially use a "quantity" strategy and that is why male mammals often fight for "harems" of some kind. Females have more of a "quality" strategy and so try to attract the fittest mate. In most mammals, the female raises the young alone with no help from the male. Males may even be a danger because they use the same resources as the female and her young use. It becomes more complicated in social mammals like wolves, porpoises, chimpanzees, humans, and others. Status can become part of the reproductive strategy. Humans even practice monogamy because of the amazingly long and demanding developmental period of human children. Other non-monogamous species may actually do that on some occasions in harsh, demanding conditions. Much of human morality is obviously about reproduction, particularly protecting women and children. There are many marriage customs, but fundamentally they are all about the same thing, survival
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Anthropologists are the scientists that specialize in studying humans. So what do they say about human survival strategy? I was told that the answer to that question is that they fight over the answer. They say a lot of things, but the topic I want to focus attention on here is Status. Anthropologists will tell you that that is the driver behind a lot of social behavior in humans. Well, the anthropologists that believe that will say that... sometimes. So what is Status as a strategy? It is basically defined as who you have reproductive access to in a society. No matter how good Silent Bunny Stalker is at catching rabbits, he isn't going to get to make time with the daughter of Chief Bear Thumper. Literature and music is full of the tale of class conflicting with love. In history, most marriages have been arranged based on class and status. It is important to consider that in nature, marrying up in status, that is marrying someone with good genes, is the equivalent of taking a step in evolution. Normally evolution is a process of replacement where the "most fit" progressively replace the "less fit". In evolution, that means higher status individuals replace lower status individuals. There is a dark side to status. It includes strategies to prevent others from reproducing. Other members of your "group" and their children are your competitors. Keep in mind, it is just the Darwinian imperative. Keep in mind that this book is all about all that changing in fundamental ways as our requirements for survival change in such deep ways.
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Please keep in mind that these strategies are described to give a background. They are part of a path to what I think will be the key to understanding a survival strategy we need to use in the ecology we are developing and will allow civilization to be a long term ecology, life support system, where humans can survive and develop long term. Oh, and for the moment please bear with me referring to the critical strategy as "M". There is a reason I am sneaking up on it.