How does a society emerge? Is it communism or capitalism that gives birth to it? Is it physical or conceptual? Can a nation or state have multiple societies? Is society communistic or capitalistic?

Here are my answers:

Power distributed and exercised hierarchically among groups and individuals is a requirement for the concept of society to emerge in a certain group or community. No wonder among indigenous peoples who are egalitarian and still untouched by civilization, they have no concept of society. In the fifties, there were forest-dwelling hunting and gathering groups who had no idea that they had been living in the Philippines. Even their concept of community was not clear. They went by kinship. Some Amazon Indians had the same experience. They had had no idea before loggers, pharmaceutical researchers, and missionaries reached them that they were part of Brazil.

It was not communism but communalism that gave birth to early societies. Our ancestors had to form communities for protection, warfare, resources, labor, power, and wealth. Nowadays, it's capitalism that gives birth to the concept of society among indigenous peoples. It's the capitalists who have changed the cultural landscape of the Amazon. Amazon Indians have learned that there is such a thing as "Brazilian society" because of the power that has reached and subjugated them. They have to accept its existence so their experience of being the exploited will make sense.

Society is purely conceptual, but it is oftentimes treated as physical. It is no different to our conceptualization and objectification of the universe. Such physicalization of society has something to do with the reduction and materialization of the vast cosmic universe we abstractly understand and cannot fathom. Cosmology has been replaced with society. Before society, comets, the stars, and the moon were blamed for illnesses, war loses, famine, floods. Now, we have politicians, governments, institutions, organizations, banks to blame for poverty, diseases, war, economic crisis.

Since society is conceptual, America, for example, can have multiple societies. American Feminists believe there's a patriarchal American society. I don't think such patriarchy exists in the consciousness of most American men. Blacks will always have the feeling of being in a racist American society because of their historical struggle. I don't think most Whites will accept they're racists. Multiple societies within a meta-society are possible because of the existence of multiple power structures or cells. Using America again, racial, political, cultural, economic, religious forms of power contribute to how the American Society, as a whole, is dissected, divided, and understood by different victimized and subjugated groups.

The very foundation of society is capitalistic. It's the power hierarchically distributed and exercised that gives birth to it. There's no communist(ic) society as Marx wanted. A communist(ic) society has no social norms, codes, and standards; thus its existence is not lasting. Communism, in my understanding, is not really a moral ideology but an anarchist one. We should learn from the experiments of Mao and Pol Pot, where anyone could be soldiers, executioners, "doctors," "lawyers," or all. The result was chaos. There's society because of hierarchy-- the demonized "class" to Marxists. Without hierarchy, there's no social order. It is social order, the basis of society, communism wants to destroy. How can communism be its foundation?

Views: 693


You need to be a member of Open Anthropology Cooperative to add comments!

Comment by M Izabel on December 3, 2010 at 12:45am
I hate cutting and pasting. I forgot the first line:

"This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived, is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion."

You can also check out capitalistic behaviors observed among primates. Example, "taxation" for protection-- Alpha male: give your banana or your vagina, so you will be protected.
Comment by M Izabel on December 3, 2010 at 12:26am
Didn't Adam Smith say, "It is the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility; the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another."?

This article may help: Born Capitalist: Free Markets and Hominid Evolution

The distinction between insiders and outsiders in relation to society alone suggests power that includes and excludes. Isn't the concept of society relevant to the exclusion and subjugation of the "other"?
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 11:05pm
By the way, there's a difference between "capitalistic" and "capitalist." Even the division of labor among early hunters and gatherers, where men might have hunted and women might have gathered, was capitalistic. Studies on stone tools are not really conclusive if stone tool-making was a specialized labor or open for all. If there was a limited supply of basalt or obsidian, for example, I don't think everyone in a hunting group made tools. The lesser the resource, the more specialized labor became to avoid wastage. There was no room for trial and error in a limited resource.

Saying that India has always been a capitalist is wrong, since "capitalist" pertains to a system. Indira nationalized banks, abolished privy purse and royal entitlements, and extended Indian Government's public sector undertakings (PSU). What she did were not of capitalism? Besides, from Nehru to Rajiv, they were under USSR's payroll, if the investigative works of Yevgenia Albats are to be believed.
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 6:23pm
Oh.. God... you wanted history yet you would not consider the politico-economic reform efforts of Gorbachev/Yeltsin, Deng Xiao Peng, and Rajiv Gandhi/Narasimha Rao/Manmohan Singh.

What you are talking about is Russian economy. I'm talking about capitalist structures or presence of capitalists. For Italian, American and French high-fashion clothes stores alone, they are all over.
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 4:43am
Like you, I also hate capitalism, but I cannot deny the fact that it is the natural system for humans considering the role of behavior in social interaction. Self-worth, self-determination, self-preservation, self-interest are all capitalistic if you analyze them. Haven't you wondered why former socialist countries easily adapt to capitalism? Russia, China, Vietnam have robust capitalistic structures now as if they were not socialist not long ago. Even Cuba is adapting to capitalism through tourism as we speak.
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 3:03am
Nikos, don't assume that my knowledge of world history is nil. My knowledge about India is more current than my knowledge about my own country.
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 2:57am
Pol Pot learned communism from the French in Paris. He was a member of Parti Communiste Francais.

With India, I don't think you're right. Check out Indira Gandhi's domestic policies, Rajiv Gandhi's Telecom and political reform (panchayati raj), and Manmohan Singh's financial reform.
Comment by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 1:25am
I'm afraid your assessment of Mao's regime is incorrect. Nehru and Indira Gandhi were Socialist in their policies.
Comment by M Izabel on December 1, 2010 at 10:27pm
I hope my inclusion of "society as ecosystem" did not sound naive to you. It's not my original idea. There are environmental sociologists and human, social, and biological ecologists who think of it to be so. Even some Eco-Marxists entertain such idea to make sense of Marx's primitive communism.
Comment by M Izabel on November 30, 2010 at 9:51pm
Thanks for reading and mentioning nature-society relationship, Toby. I think Durkheim was right. Like him, Marx and Engels conceptualized nature within the parameters of society. They both thought labor influenced evolution and ecology.

I wish they did go beyond the relationship between society and ecology. We would not have had this problem of society being not an ecosystem. We would not also be wasting our time understanding, reconciling,and appropriating real society and ideal society, since a human society would be as real, structured, and predictable as a marine ecosystem.


OAC Press



© 2020   Created by Keith Hart.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service