Sociology and Social Governance



While it is widely accepted that human beings are social animals that seek out each other’s company and work in teams, the simultaneous contention that we are motivated primarily by self-interest has given rise to a long-running philosophical and political dispute between ‘individualistic’ and ‘collectivistic’ ideologies. This dispute has been given added potency by the advent of neo-Darwinism and its offshoots, sociobiology and selfish gene theory, which dispute the evolutionary sustainability of altruism and the organizational scale at which ‘natural selection’ operates as a discriminatory external force.


At the root of these disputes is the abstract supposition – based ultimately on the definitive mutual exclusiveness of space and matter – that completely autonomous entities can exist as discrete individuals or groups at any scale of organization. Awareness of natural inclusion reveals that such autonomy is impossible, and therefore that opposition between individualistic and collectivistic ideologies is as unnecessary and costly as it is ubiquitous in modern political confrontation. Individualistic cultures are as incoherent as collectivistic cultures are suppressive; neither is sustainable. The needs of uniquely varied individuals are not incompatible with those of the diverse gatherings in which they participate co-creatively. They are complementary. What is needed is the kind of social governance that recognises the needs of each in the other’s dynamic influence and balances these according to circumstances. Sadly such a form of governance is not possible in polarized societies forced to choose between one or other inadequate alternative while excluding the middle ground where both are acknowledged and appreciated.