Re: virus: Cow

Dave Pape (
Wed, 26 May 1999 14:02:06 +0100

At 10:14 24/05/99 -0400, you wrote:
>>In a /partial/ sense, it can. IE sometimes people's relationships
>> with others are FAIRLY symbiotic, other times they're NOT VERY
>> symbiotic AT ALL.
>...individual interactions between people can't account for the whole
>of the culture. The presnt there is, at present, no culture which, as
>a whole is constructed to deliberately foster the cooperative
>interaction of its components.

So how do you account for cultural products like Sesame Street? That used to have loads of sketches which had muppets failing, then deciding to cooperate, then succeeding. As far as I'm concerned that's US culture deliberately fostering cooperative interaction between kids. I'm surprised at the sbsolutism of your post, I'm wondering if our definitions are different.

>There is certainly no culture
>presently active which fosters the principle of cooperation with
>other cultures.

I think personally that ALL cultures both foster cooperative AND exploitative strategies in their members' dealings with people from other cultures... at the same time.

>...individual interactions between people can't account for the whole
>of the culture.

what else do you think accounts for culture? I mean, obviously people sometimes develop ideas while they sit alone in a room, but... that development doesn't become part of the culture until they introduce it to other people, does it? And obviously there's culture encoded in books, but if nobody reads them and then has a dialogue with someone else, they're pretty culturally inert, aren't they?

Try and take this as fairly non-hostile questioning by the way. I'm just surprised at how... total your viewpoint seems.

>>If the few have always benefited at the expense
>> of the many, then the many should get progressively worse off as time
>> goes by, predicting that most people in modern Britain (say) should
>> have less food/property/freedom than most people x-hundred years

>'re restricting your consideration to a particular geographical
>area. We MUST consider the world as an whole, because our actions
>within cultures effect the world as a whole. Right now the gap
>between the few [who have much - more than ever before] is bigger
>than at any previous time [to our knowledge] than has ever previously
>been the case.


1 That 2nd sentence is a /very/ abstract statement. I was considering putting it in my last post, a kind of pre-emptive acknowledgement of the point, but realised I had no basis for drawing the conclusion. How do you MEASURE the gap? Distributions of life-expectancies? Inca kings had a way, way better time physically than peasants, can we possibly judge whether that's a smaller difference than between the "elite" and the poor today?

2 It's not my point. I'm still convinced that a randomly picked human being now has a better standard of living than another randomly picked HB 2000 years ago would've. If what you're saying is true, wouldn't we expect the descendants of Year 100BCE hill farmers to be worse off than their ancestors, because the rich have been doing nothing but attacking them all that time?

>> Erm, and I reckon most people now/here have better access to food,
>> better medicines, better life expectancy/quality than they did in
>> middle ages.
>...where is "here"? Globally, this is not the case. Granted, the
>populations of certain areas of the world have access to all sorts of
>unutterably fantastic things, but this comes at the cost of people
>not "here". If it's far enough away, we generally don't give a damn -
>out of sight, out of mind.

Not JUST at their cost. Looks like I might provoke a Wade-Smith-style rape-rage reaction, but it's not as simple as 100% exploitation. There is also an element of trade to the ways world cultures interact. Have you read about game theory? I reckon when cultures interact you're seeing on a macro-level an ecology of social interactions, involving exploitations, attacks, and instances of TRADE, which I think is the basis of cultural symbiosis.

> If the many now have more than they did back in the day,
>> then surely they're gaining from The Deal, in which case there's at
>> least partial symbiosis going on somewhere.
>...some cultures function effectively as units to extract materials
>from other cultures. The units of a dmoniator culture may act
>together - agreed, in partial symbiosis - with particular goals in
>mind, but on a larger scale humyn organisms are not encouraged to act

They are sometimes. EG Live Aid, ha ha ha NATO (hilarious example), but hey, forming an alliance between remote countries, that IS human organisms acting together on a larger scale, isn't it?