Society/Culture Are hierarchies bad?

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Johnny Bananas

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I don't think hierarchies in general can ever be fully eliminated from society, for two reasons: 1. authority is necessary for things to run smoothly without anarchy taking hold, and 2. there must be a criteria for selecting that authority, and no matter what criteria you pick, some people will clear that barrier and others won't.

However, it's essential for those hierarchies to be regulated. Why? Because when hierarchies are too rigid, or too powerful, or not held accountable, they hurt society. If people are stuck in an inferior position no matter how competent or hard-working they are, their human potential is not being fully realised. If important decisions are being made by less competent people, we get less optimal results, and society as a whole loses. If those at the top can abuse their power and prevent it being diluted as long as they live, society loses, and whichever unfortunate individuals are in their way will lose most of all. So there has to be some level of fluidity, accountability and restraints on power.

We should ask ourselves whether each type of hierarchy needs to exist, and if so, what level of influence it should play.

Racial hierarchies - I don't believe there's any value whatsoever to having them, because race is irrelevant to what strengths a person can bring to society. The sooner they're eliminated, the better.

Wealth hierarchies - have to be tolerated to some extent, because we've seen that comfortable standards of living are most easily generated by some form of market economy featuring private property, which necessitates wealth inequality and some value being given to the power of money. But we've also seen that excessive wealth inequality leads to systemic, inherited disadvantages for many, stopping them from realising their full potential. And if the wealthy buy political power, it entrenches their position, it can prevent others from becoming wealthy, it can put them above the laws that govern us all, and it can put their needs and desires ahead of what's good for society as a whole.

I think it's clear that wealth hierarchies currently have too much power in Australia, because billionaires have used their money and control of the media to ensure that governments friendly to their interests have retained power since at least 2013. Fossil fuel barons in particular have white-anted the efforts to decarbonise the Australian economy. The pandemic has only made this worse, as the 31 billionaires in Australia collectively increased their wealth by $90 billion in that period, whereas the average person has been lucky to stay in a job, let alone see a pay increase.

Class hierarchies - will probably always exist to some extent, at least in the sense of a lower class existing. Most people want to be assured that those in positions of authority have some level of education on the subject they have authority over, and some groups will always value education more than others.

The key is that class groupings shouldn't be rigid. A kid from a low-class background should face no barriers to obtaining a high position in society, so long as they have the drive and the work ethic to succeed. Also, there's little advantage to society in having a landed gentry forming an entrenched upper class, and Australia has done well to leave that part of English culture behind.

In general I think the level of class hierarchy in Australia isn't a problem. People from low-class backgrounds like Anthony Albanese have risen to levels where they're indistinguishable from their counterparts who came from families of higher status. As much as people like to joke about bogans, there isn't any serious intolerance of them. The disadvantage is more wealth or race-based than class-based.
 

Carringbush2010

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Relationships are inevitable, because interelation between two parties necessitates a relationship, but a hierarchy is different from a relationship.
Hierarchies contain relationships, they're not the 'cause'. Hierarchies are inevitable unless we have something unstructured and chaotic. Can't think of a society past or present that does not have a hierarchy. If you can find one I'll challenge it was / is a society - society necessitates order and organization. Without hierarchy you don't have that. That is not in dispute.

I have a relationship with my boss, in a hierarchy, like everybody - deny that if you will.
 

Gethelred

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Hierarchies contain relationships, they're not the 'cause'. Hierarchies are inevitable unless we have something unstructured and chaotic. Can't think of a society past or present that does not have a hierarchy. If you can find one I'll challenge it was / is a society - society necessitates order and organization. Without hierarchy you don't have that. That is not in dispute.

I have a relationship with my boss, in a hierarchy, like everybody - deny that if you will.
Did I deny that hierarchies exist?

Huh. That's funny. I don't remember writing it.
 

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Gethelred

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Essentially, Johnny Bananas post makes the case better than I could for what I think in this area.

I take leave to question the first principles thing concerning hierarchies being a necessary condition, but outside of that I don't dispute the reality of things.
 

Gethelred

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Then what is your point?
I've written my point down four times. If you're not getting it by now, I've either not expressed it very well or you're not reading the posts.

I think you are supposing that a condition of being human is a hierarchy due to our mammalian ancestry, and that - because biology/mammalian sociology - this means that it's the best or the only imaginable organisational paradigm. I do not think that necessarily follows, largely because there haven't really been attempts to dismantle hierarchies within human societies until very, very recently in terms of evolutionary/biological timescales.

The next argument we're going to have is whether or not they are inevitable, in which case without foresight neither of us can speak in either direction; you'll argue 'this is the way things are' because this is the way things have been; I'll argue that there have been any amount of things that were facts of life right up until they weren't anymore, and just because something (say, cancer) is a fact of life shouldn't immediately entail that we shouldn't try to counter it or mitigate its ill effects.
 

Carringbush2010

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I've written my point down four times. If you're not getting it by now, I've either not expressed it very well or you're not reading the posts.

I think you are supposing that a condition of being human is a hierarchy due to our mammalian ancestry, and that - because biology/mammalian sociology - this means that it's the best or the only imaginable organisational paradigm. I do not think that necessarily follows, largely because there haven't really been attempts to dismantle hierarchies within human societies until very, very recently in terms of evolutionary/biological timescales.

The next argument we're going to have is whether or not they are inevitable, in which case without foresight neither of us can speak in either direction; you'll argue 'this is the way things are' because this is the way things have been; I'll argue that there have been any amount of things that were facts of life right up until they weren't anymore, and just because something (say, cancer) is a fact of life shouldn't immediately entail that we shouldn't try to counter it or mitigate its ill effects.
I think you're overcomplicating the purpose of a hierarchy, which we already know what it is - order and organization.

Now I think you trying to redefine what it is, so if order and organization is not a hierarchy then what is it?

Do hierarchies have ill effects that we must attempt to mitigate? Sure, but that is not the cause of hierarchy that is the cause of the user(s) of hierarchy, not hierarchy itself.

That is purely my argument, order and organization (however one wishes to term or define it) IS inevitable, and it is not bad. Even if there is a push to eradicate order and organization in any given group or society, mammalian nature will gravitate back to order and organization - inevitably.

Can it be misused? certainly, but certainly is not its purpose.
 

Seeds

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Semantics thread.


stay away. Its addictive but ultimately utterly meaningless. You are arguing over the definition of a word and nothing more.

you are not arguing over whether hierarchies exist but what the word hierarchies means.

these threads should be considered troll baiting threads. Classic sweet jesus trolling.
 

Gethelred

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I think you're overcomplicating the purpose of a hierarchy, which we already know what it is - order and organization.

Now I think you trying to redefine what it is, so if order and organization is not a hierarchy then what is it?

Do hierarchies have ill effects that we must attempt to mitigate? Sure, but that is not the cause of hierarchy that is the cause of the user(s) of hierarchy, not hierarchy itself.
It's always the apples, never the barrel.
That is purely my argument, order and organization (however one wishes to term or define it) IS inevitable, and it is not bad. Even if there is a push to eradicate order and organization in any given group or society, mammalian nature will gravitate back to order and organization - inevitably.

Can it be misused? certainly, but certainly is not its purpose.
I know. You've said it just as many times as I've said that I do not think it is inevitable, just that it arose and we've yet to find a more viable/successful/stable alternative yet.

And if I'm making things too complex, you are definitively making them excessively simplistic; a hierarchy is more specific than just order and organisation, and order and organisation can exist external to a hierarchy.
 

Carringbush2010

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It's always the apples, never the barrel.

I know. You've said it just as many times as I've said that I do not think it is inevitable, just that it arose and we've yet to find a more viable/successful/stable alternative yet.

And if I'm making things too complex, you are definitively making them excessively simplistic; a hierarchy is more specific than just order and organisation, and order and organisation can exist external to a hierarchy.
I'm not arguing the nuances of hierarchy or its byproducts, I'm talking about, in line with the thread title, 'are hierarchies bad?' - so yes in its basic purpose, no it is not. Also in its basic purpose it is not avoidable.

Hence, I'm looking at it from its origin, not arguing how it used / misused.

Order and organization is unavoidable in groups or societies no matter how small or large or complex, however one wants to term / name it.
 

ChampRevesby

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We want those that are most competent (geniuses, hyper productive, entrepreneurs) to occupy the upper levels of the hierarchy (given the Pareto distribution) as these individuals disproportionately produce for society and as a byproduct themselves. As long as interactions up and down the hierarchy are consensual and not based on power, then they are hyper functional (rising tide lifts all ships). However overtime hierarchies can become corrupt simply because humans are part of the system. One way to overcome the apparent (or real) unfairness of a hierarchy is to completely flatten it (equal outcome). The only way to achieve this is to use overwhelming social pressure, cohesion and force as humans naturally want to form hierarchy (doesn't matter what form it takes, sorry Communists).
 

Gethelred

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We want those that are most competent (geniuses, hyper productive, entrepreneurs) to occupy the upper levels of the hierarchy (given the Pareto distribution) as these individuals disproportionately produce for society and as a byproduct themselves. As long as interactions up and down the hierarchy are consensual and not based on power, then they are hyper functional (rising tide lifts all ships). However overtime hierarchies can become corrupt simply because humans are part of the system. One way to overcome the apparent (or real) unfairness of a hierarchy is to completely flatten it (equal outcome). The only way to achieve this is to use overwhelming social pressure, cohesion and force as humans naturally want to form hierarchy (doesn't matter what form it takes, sorry Communists).
Given the discussion, can you provide a basis for this that hasn't already been discussed?
 

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Carringbush2010

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cohesion and force as humans naturally want to form hierarchy
Not sure it's a conscious 'want', rather an inevitable gravity toward order and organization.

Of course it is conscious in so much as designing / modifying the hierarchal tree in any group / society - still order and organization cannot exist without it. So you're correct.
 

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